August 28, 2014 at 1:00 am

Dear Abby: Jeanne Phillips

Wife is unwilling to care for difficult mother-in-law

Dear Abby: My mother-in-law is 80 and in the early stages of Alzheimerís. She lives alone an hour and a half from us. She also has a professional who takes care of her once a week. My husband, ďFred,Ē goes to help and entertain her every weekend, and I sometimes accompany him. She has enough money to stay in an assisted living facility, but Fred wants to build a mother-in-law apartment for her on our property.

Abby, I DONíT LIKE HER. She was a bully when younger, and sheís still manipulative. She has made some comments about me hitting her, which never happened. Of course, Fred believed me. If she lives with us, I will be her main caregiver because I have a home-based firm and a flexible schedule.

I have already said no to Fredís idea, but I donít want to be the bad guy. His two brothers live states away and donít want to be involved because of the way their mother treated them during their teens. Fred is the only son willing to overlook past issues and has made peace with her. Help!

Threeís a Crowd in Maryland

Dear Threeís a Crowd: Caring for someone who has Alzheimerís disease is a full-time job because the disease is PROGRESSIVE. While Fredís mother can live alone with the help of a professional once a week now, that will soon not be the case. She will become increasingly helpless and so confused that should an emergency arise in her apartment she will be unable to think sequentially enough to know what to do. She may no longer recognize who you are and become agitated and combative.

For these reasons your mother-in-law should be in an assisted living facility staffed with caregivers who have been trained to take care of people with Alzheimerís. Because you have a business to run, it canít be you. Since Fred has made peace with his mother, he should visit her often to ensure she is well-treated. But he should NOT expect the responsibility of caring for her to be yours because it is unrealistic.

Dear Abby: My wife likes to leave money hidden in the house or car as her little ATM. The problem is, one or both of our teenagers discover her stashes and the money disappears. We have had a family meeting about it, yet it continues.

My wife blames one kid whom she wants to kick out, but what if itís the other? Now sheís blaming me for not solving the problem. Yes, itís terrible, but she has fed the impulsiveness and refuses to change her ways. She wants us to be on the ďsame page,Ē but that usually means her page. Ideas?

Dad in the Middle

Dear Dad: Your wife may want to place the blame on you, but there is more than one problem happening. The first is her insistence on leaving money where itís tempting a teen (or two) who steals. Second, you donít know who is taking the money and what itís being used for. Third is your wifeís idea that a quick fix would be to throw a dependent child out.

It may take the services of a licensed marriage counselor to mediate a pact between the two of you to work cooperatively together. If your wife needs money, the only ATM she should use is one thatís connected with your bank rather than the cookie jar. Your teens should both be tested for drugs and evaluated for emotional problems. After that, family counseling might help you all communicate more successfully with one another.

Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.