2/6/2023 | By Amy Dickinson

An elder sibling worries about eldercare for his 100-year-old mother. Should they all pay an equal amount or should each pay what they can? See what advice columnist Amy Dickinson has to say in this edition of “Ask Amy.”

Dear Amy:

I have three siblings. I am the oldest – 10 years older than my next sibling. My wife and I are now 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 now adults and on their own.

The controversy involves my 100-year-old mother, who lives in the East 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.

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?

– Stuck in Stalemate

Dear Stuck:

Moving your 100-year-old mother to another part of the country to live in your home does not seem like a viable option for anyone, especially her. 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.

Elderly mother in wheel chair with nurse smiling.

Given your older age and more modest assets, you need to be careful with your own spending, and your younger siblings may not quite grasp how for many people retirement brings on an extreme 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 come to the area in order to be with your mother during times when your siblings need to be away.

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers – ranging from worries about eldercare to grandparenting to Beanie Babies. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

© 2023 by Amy Dickinson

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