Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Aging Parents Cannot Handle Mentally Ill Daughter

DEAR ABBY: My husband's younger sister, "Cindy," is mentally ill. She has caused tremendous problems in the family. She has been arrested too many times to remember and is now on five years' probation for injury to a child. My in-laws continue making excuses for her and are the worst enablers I have ever known.

My husband once urged his dad to put Cindy into a group home or program that will take care of her because his parents are getting up in years. They refuse because it would mean they'd have to have Cindy officially committed, and they think there is still some magic doctor out there who will fix her.

Can my husband do anything as a last effort before something happens to one of his parents, or she winds up in jail? -- SAD IN TEXAS

DEAR SAD: Your husband should try to convince his parents to get some family counseling. It might help them accept that their daughter needs more help than they are equipped to give her. An outside, objective person should weigh in so that Cindy can get the professional help she so obviously needs.

If she is physically, psychologically or emotionally abusing her parents, Adult Protective Services can step in to be sure they are protected. When your in-laws pass away, if your sister-in-law becomes a danger to herself or those around her, a family member can request a commitment and psychological evaluation.

Read more in: Mental Health | Family & Parenting | Abuse