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Column

Niece suspects elderly aunt is being isolated by her son

Dear Abby,

My husband and I have an elderly (90-plus) aunt who lives with her son in a town about 4 hours away. She corresponds by letter with us regularly, and we always write back. However, it has become apparent that she’s not receiving our letters because she doesn’t make any comments on any of the things we write to tell her about. We suspect that her son is withholding her mail because we have written to him in the past to express our displeasure about how he treats his mother’s emotional and safety needs.

In the last letter we received from her, she told us she expected to spend Christmas in her basement apartment while her son and his wife’s family have Christmas festivities upstairs. It broke our hearts, but we realize that since we’re so far away, there’s little we can do. We’ve tried sending letters without our return address on the envelope, etc. to get past her son’s scrutiny, but we really don’t believe she’s getting her mail.

Should we contact the police or social services to do a wellness check on her, or do you have another suggestion? We know she occasionally goes to a senior center in town. Should we write to her in care of the senior center? Your comments are appreciated.

– Suspicious

in Georgia

Dear Suspicious,

Your relative may be having memory issues, or your fears may be genuine. Is it possible to talk with her on the phone or visit her to make an assessment? If someone suspects that an older person is being physically, emotionally or financially abused, it should be reported so the matter can be investigated. You can do that by contacting Adult Protective Services in your aunt’s state or the National Domestic Violence hotline at thehotline.org or 800-799-7233.

Dear Abby,

A few years ago, I found some flirtatious and slightly risque messages between my husband and a female business associate. My husband agreed that they were wrong and says he has discontinued those kinds of conversations.

He has stayed in contact with her, and their friendship remains.

After dealing with the hurt for more than 2 years, I finally told him a few months ago the only way I would be OK with their friendship is if he introduced me to her. He promised he would, but he hasn’t followed through. This week I saw on our phone bill that while on a recent business trip he was texting with her late into the night and early in the morning. I confronted him, but he continues to say they are just friends, and he is doing nothing wrong.

I’m heartbroken. I feel he has betrayed my trust. What should I do?

– Disrespected

in Texas

Dear Disrespected,

Your husband is doing something wrong. He’s hurting you and threatening the marriage.

What you should do now is ask your doctor or your health insurance company to refer you to a marriage and family therapist, schedule some visits and insist that your husband join you. If he is interested in saving the marriage, he will agree. If not, you may need to reconsider your future and consult an attorney.

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

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