Dear Amy: I have three siblings. I am the oldest — 10 years older than my next sibling.
My wife and I are in our mid-70s. We are retired and live on Social Security, her modest teacher's pension and a six-figure nest egg.
Two of my siblings have large incomes and considerable real estate holdings. Another brother and his wife have professional jobs. All the grandchildren in the family are adults and on their own.
We have run into a controversy involving my 100-year-old mother, who lives near my siblings in an expensive care facility. We live in another part of the country.
My siblings insist that we share the cost in equal measure. That puts a strain on our finances. We have offered to care for my mother in our home at no cost to them, but they have rejected the offer.
I believe that contributions should be based on individual circumstances and ability to pay. The disagreement has caused a rift among us. Is there a solution here?
Amy says: Moving your 100-year-old mother to another part of the country to live in your home does not seem like a viable option. If she is happy and doing well where she is, then she should stay there.
I agree with you that siblings should contribute to an elder's care according to their circumstances and ability to pay. When your siblings chose to move your mother into this expensive home, you should have made it clear at the outset that this was unaffordable for you.
Your younger siblings might not grasp how for many people retirement brings on a drop in income, along with the possibility of increased expenses.
This is a "you can't get blood from a stone" situation, but you should offer to be of service to your mother in order to share the burden with your siblings. At the very least, you could offer to be with your mother during times when your siblings need to be away.
It's catfishing season
Dear Amy: I've known "Stacy" for 10 years. Not too long ago, Stacy had to move to another city because she was catfishing several people, and it turned into a huge mess.
Recently, every time she and I go somewhere together, a guy who is not her husband always comes along.
She and I have identical cellphone covers on our phones, and recently when she and I were together, I accidentally picked up her phone and saw a very explicit message from this other guy on her phone.
I think she is catfishing people again. What should I do? Should I say something to her, or keep this to myself?
Amy says: To clarify, "catfishing" is the practice of someone pretending to be someone else online, in order to "fish for" — and catch — unsuspecting people who are most often looking for a romantic relationship.
The catfish is basically a predator who victimizes people, sometimes scamming money from them, and almost always creating an entirely false romance with them. This is emotional as well as financial larceny.
Catfishing can become something of an addiction for perpetrators, who often get a rush from the power of these entanglements, in addition to financial gain.
Let's look at the facts: Stacy always is showing up with a man who is not her husband. You saw an explicit text message on her phone that you find disturbing. She has a history of being a catfish.
Yes, you should ask her what she is up to. And prepare yourself for an answer that might not be the one you are expecting.
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