DEAR ABBY: My father is in the early stages of Alzheimer's. While at a family party, my stepmother started talking about how she and Dad had just visited their friends, the Royal Family in England. I assume she thought she was being funny. My poor father was completely confused, but my stepmother continued on with the charade. We all felt uncomfortable and didn't know how to handle the situation. The grandkids felt bad for Grandpop.
I recently learned that my stepmother pretended her friend was his daughter. Dad is confused enough without having to be tricked in this manner. My stepmother is a very complex, challenging woman, and I need to handle this matter very carefully. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. -- SAD ABOUT DAD IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR SAD: Your stepmother is not only "complex and challenging," she has a twisted sense of humor. Ridiculing someone with dementia is cruel and, in my opinion, qualifies as elder abuse. As to "tricking" your father into thinking her friend was his daughter, I wish you had mentioned what she was trying to accomplish by doing that. Your father -- and his assets -- may need protection. Please consider discussing this with a social worker who specializes in senior services.