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by Abigail Van Buren

Dad's Refusal To Acknowledge Illness Puts Nephews at Risk

DEAR ABBY: My father is in his 70s and lives close by. My brother and his family live across the country. Dad has smoked for more than 60 years, and an incident with his high blood pressure recently landed him in the hospital. He's supposed to be on medication, but he refuses to take it.

He claims his hobby of playing the trumpet keeps his lungs healthy and recent changes in his diet have solved the blood pressure issues. Neither of these things seem likely to me, and he has not been back to the doctor. Dad hides his condition from everyone. I know only because I was the one who was called when he went to the hospital.

My brother recently told me Dad is planning to take my teenage nephews camping at a fairly remote location. When I encouraged Dad to tell my brother about his heart condition so he could make an informed decision about the safety of the trip, or at least prepare my nephews in case something happened, Dad went through the roof! He insists he's not sick and I have no business sharing his medical information. More likely he doesn't want to admit he's getting older or may have to cancel the trip.

I have to tell my brother if Dad won't, but if I do, I'm sure I'll never get more information, and Dad will quit talking to me altogether. Is there any way around this that I'm not seeing? -- LEVELHEADED DAUGHTER IN DETROIT

DEAR DAUGHTER: The safety of your brother's children is paramount. Your father does not have the right to place them at risk, which he will because of his carelessness about his health situation. Your father may not like it, but it is imperative that you warn your brother so he can make an informed decision about whether to allow an unsupervised camping trip with Grandpa. (The solution may be that another adult will be included to keep an eye on things.)