Dear Abby: Aging mom has health issues but wants to stay in her home

My father died four years ago, leaving my 69-year-old mother alone.

Dear Abby: My father died four years ago, leaving my 69-year-old mother alone. My mother has health and mobility issues. Her house is large and has two stories, and it far exceeds her needs. The problem is that she’s extremely sentimental about it.

I worry about her being alone because my sister and I live two hours away in opposite directions, and Mother is either unwilling or unable to address the issue of moving closer to me or my sister. Money is not an issue.

I talked with my sister, and we agree that Mom should move closer to whomever she wants. Because of her age, I feel guilty that one of us isn’t close by to be there for her. Abby, how does one lovingly and gently nudge a parent to move closer for her own well-being?


In Indiana

Dear Worried: You are good and caring siblings, but you cannot live your mother’s life for her. There may be more to her reluctance to leave her home than sentimentality. If she has lived there for decades, she wouldn’t just be giving up her house, but also her friends and acquaintances, the places she shops, etc. Aside from you or your sister, she would be like a stranger in a strange land.

Because money is not an issue, a caregiver could be hired to provide assistance and companionship for your mother if her health and mobility reach the point that she can no longer live alone. And if her needs become progressively greater, you or your sister should research assisted-living facilities near you and talk to her about moving into one.

Dear Abby: I thought I was a pretty good parent, but I am stumped when it comes to my 13-year-old daughter. The latest point of contention is that she has gotten into the habit of telling her father and me to “shut up.” She does it when we are playing with each other.

In spite of the fact that I have corrected her and told her it is disrespectful and unacceptable, she insists there is nothing wrong with it. She says that it’s just a hang-up that I have and other parents wouldn’t care.

I don’t care if other parents would allow it or not. She has earned consequences for it, and yet turns right around and implies that my scolding her basically earned my being told to shut up. I can’t believe her lack of logic when arguing her point. She’s really baffled as to why it is an inappropriate thing to say, and I’m baffled at her obstinance.


In Texas

Dear Baffled: Explain to your daughter that there are some things teens can say to each other that are inappropriate when said to their parents. (“Shut up!” can be used to express amazement or surprise at hearing something without being meant as disrespectful.) That said, if this expression your daughter uses offends you, she should have enough respect for you that she refrains from using it at home.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.