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by Abigail Van Buren

Sisters' Retirement Plan Leaves One of Them Out

DEAR ABBY: The sisters in my family are very close. Today we live independently and alone in different cities. After we retire, three of the four of us plan to live together in a new location. Our dilemma: The fourth sister marches to a different drummer.

Our lifestyles are very different -- completely opposite, in fact. We love her and enjoy being with her at family gatherings and doing things together. Yet we feel strongly that because she has little initiative and a "dependent" personality, she shouldn't live with us, so we haven't included her in our plans.

We know the news will upset her, and we don't want to cause hurt feelings, but we feel strongly about this. We have tried to figure out how we could make it work, but always end up knowing it won't. The only option we can think of would be that she could move to wherever we are and find a place of her own, but we're not sure she has the means to make it happen. Can you help us figure out the most compassionate way to share the news with her? -- FORWARD THINKING

DEAR FORWARD THINKING: The most compassionate way to venture into this minefield would be to ask your sister what her plans are once she retires. If she says she plans to live with you, she should be told it won't happen and why, so she can make other arrangements for herself. While the conversation may not be pleasant, it is necessary, and it should take place sooner rather than later.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Aging