DEAR ABBY: Several years ago my father-in-law suffered a stroke. He is now able to live by himself, but my husband, "Frank," and I deliver his meals, handle his finances and take him to his doctor's appointments.
My dilemma is that my father-in-law treats me better than he does Frank. It hurts Frank's feelings to hear his father say nasty things and accuse him of not helping. Frank is an only child, and he does everything for his father.
I promised Frank I would not say anything to his father about how unkind he is, but it gets harder every day to keep my mouth shut.
Frank and I are extremely close, and I can't stand to see him hurt. Should I stay out of it like I promised, or should I get more involved? -- ANGRY DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
DEAR ANGRY: Start by confidentially asking your father-in-law's doctor if the stroke affected the part of his brain that regulates personality, behavior and mood. If your father-in-law treated Frank more kindly before the stroke, his agitation may be the result of the illness.
Depression is common in stroke victims, and is treatable through medication, psychotherapy and behavior modification. If your father-in-law has any insight into his abusive behavior, it can be adjusted. If not, your husband, through counseling, must learn behavioral strategies so he can avoid "triggering" an emotional outburst from his father.
For more information, contact the National Stroke Association, 9707 E. Easter Lane, Englewood, CO 80112-3747. The telephone number is 1-800-STROKES (1-800-787-6537), and online: www.stroke.org.