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by Abigail Van Buren

Family Quarrels Over Making Health-Care Decisions

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I were married in college and now have two adult, college-educated daughters. We have worked hard, and we own a successful business. Unfortunately, my husband has been in and out of the hospital for the last eight years. When he's not in the hospital, he's very active and involved with the family. However, his almost-yearly hospitalizations take their toll on all of us.

My question: What role should his parents (in their 80s) play in his health-care decisions? They say he's their son and they have a right. I have said I and our daughters will help him to make those decisions. Am I wrong? This has been bothering me and my daughters for eight long years! -- WHOSE CHOICE IN THE WEST

DEAR WHOSE CHOICE: The choice of who should make his health-care decisions should he be unable to do it for himself should be your husband's. Those wishes should be formalized in a health-care directive and shared with family members. Once someone becomes an adult, the responsibility for carrying out those wishes usually rests with one's spouse or children rather than one's parents.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Health & Safety