Dear Annie: I am a single 40-year-old man. The past 18 months have been rough for my family. My father passed away, and my mother moved to Florida. Then she had a mild stroke. I have always liked Florida, so I decided to move with Mom and help care for her. My two brothers still live in our old hometown with their families.
Ever since our move here, my brothers have given me the cold shoulder. I heard through the grapevine that they believe I am controlling Mom’s money and taking advantage of her. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I have put my life on hold to make my mother’s life better. She forgets to take her medications and has lost interest in cooking. So I cook her meals, take her wherever she wants to go, make her doctors’ appointments and see that she takes the required meds.
I have told my brothers the truth of the situation, and so has my mother, but nothing seems to change their minds. We have always been a close family, and I don’t want that to change. Is there something I can do to fix this? – Confused in Florida
Dear Confused: Your brothers may be suspicious, but it is also likely there is some guilt mixed in, causing them to resent you and your importance to Mom. The best way to handle this is to include them as much as possible. Ask their opinion on Mom’s medical treatments and any major decisions. Make all financial dealings completely transparent. Send them regular updates and copies of her checkbook balance, her investments, her cash outlay – everything. Better yet, ask them to come to Florida to spend a week with Mom and see how she’s doing.