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Siblings worry sister is abusing elderly mother

Staff report

Dear Annie: I am one of four adult children. Our father died a couple of years ago. Three of us have our own homes. One sister, "Diane," has been married twice and has lived with numerous men and was kicked out when each relationship ended. She has no place that she owns.

Our mother has told us that after she is gone, Diane will get the house and still share a quarter of the remaining assets. Dad was not in agreement with this, but Mom outlived him. In the past few years, Mom has spent at least $10,000 "fixing up the house" for our sister, sometimes at Diane's suggestion. Diane moved in with our mother and treats her badly. She doesn't spend much time with Mom, but when she does, she is terribly rude and condescending to her. It's more than we can stand.

Mom has dementia and is getting worse. The house is filthy, and Diane becomes angry if we try to clean it. What can we do without a full family blowup? We all agree it is elder abuse, but don't know what to do. - Heartbroken Daughter

Dear Heartbroken: A full family blowup is the least of your worries. You have to protect your mother. The National Council on Elder Abuse (ncea.aoa.gov) offers a list of state resources for reporting abuse, including Adult Protective Services in Mom's area. You also can call the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 for resources and assistance.

Dear Annie: I have a question about tipping in hotels. I always tip for the number of nights I stay. If I checked in on Monday, I would leave a tip on Tuesday and again prior to my checking out on Wednesday. I thought this was correct.

Recently, we needed extra towels. I walked the note to the front desk and added a tip, telling the front desk clerk that we were leaving in the morning and would like the room made up early. The desk clerk thanked me on behalf of the housekeeping staff and assured me that the tip would be passed on.

But when I spoke to the housekeeper later that day, she said she didn't receive the tip. When I asked the desk clerk, she said she had been instructed by the manager to give the tip to the housekeeper who made up the room prior to our Monday check-in. Was the manager correct? When I tried to leave a tip for the other gal the next day, I discovered that was her day off. How best can I make this up to her? What do I do in the future? - Tipping Quandary from Ohio

Dear Ohio: You are correct to leave a tip for the housekeeper each day of your stay, because you never know who is cleaning your room on any given day. The problem occurred because you handed the tip to the desk clerk, and the manager gave it to someone else. If you insist on making it up to the housekeeper, send the tip to the hotel with her name on the envelope. But in the future, we'd leave tips on the dresser and ask for extra towels by calling the front desk from your room.

Dear Annie: You've printed several letters from those who feel inadequate about the cleanliness of their homes due to comments from family members.

I am clean and organized, but that is not always evident in my home. As my children were growing up, I found it much more important to take them to the park, museums, plays, the library and the zoo. My husband and I coached sports and were leaders of their school groups, etc.

Our children will remember those activities and be influenced by them for a lifetime. People should live life instead of trying to clean it up. If it bothers others, it is their problem. Your true friends won't care whether there's dust on the furniture. We all end up as dust anyway. - Been There, Learned From It

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

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