An old friend of my elderly aunt (I’ll call her “Jane”) told me that she’s unable to contact Jane because her partner had a falling-out with this friend and won’t let her speak to Jane.
When I call, he always answers the phone and also dials for her. She doesn’t seem able to use the phone independently, but always speaks to me.
I’ve visited and dropped in unannounced four times over the last few years and have never seen anything worrisome.
My aunt attends an activity centre three days weekly, which she enjoys. She wears clean clothes, the house is well kept, and when I arrived unannounced she had her lunch, including meat, potatoes and vegetables.
The local health unit recently checked out her functioning and said that she doesn’t have dementia. She does forget things and struggles to find words.
She’s 86, uses a cane and a walker.
Her partner has asked me in the past if I could have her near me should anything happen to him (he had medical issues at the time.)
Her friend who used to visit tells me that Jane had no money in her wallet, and was afraid to purchase anything. She says that Jane doesn’t say things that her partner wouldn’t like.
I’ve never seen them together but I’m never alone with Jane. Her partner has daughters who didn’t take kindly to Jane, who had no children of her own.
I’m the closest, almost only relative she has left, but live six-hours’ drive away.
How should I proceed? Can I talk to the police?
You should look into your aunt’s situation simply because you’re her only relative.
She’s apparently totally dependent on her partner who may be doing nothing wrong.
But her old friend’s comment to you about him controlling access to Jane, plus the disinterested attitude of his step-daughters, could be worrisome.
It warrants a trip and a long enough stay nearby (at her home would be even more telling) to check things out.
Contact the health unit that visited Jane and make an appointment to see whomever was at her home.
Without suggesting something’s wrong, just explain that you’re the only relative and are concerned about her and ask if they saw anything you should know about.
(There are likely privacy restrictions, so proceed gently).
Also, the same goes for speaking to the seniors’ activity counsellor, asking about your aunt and if there’s anything they’ve noticed that you should know.
Unless you see or hear something concrete to tell police, there’s nothing they can act on.
Meanwhile, keep up fairly frequent phone contact with your aunt.
If her partner ever restricts your contact, that’s when to call whatever community services’ for the elderly that’s available in her locality, and the police.
My long-time best girlfriend was so self-absorbed, I finally dropped the friendship when she didn’t visit me in the hospital where I stayed for three weeks, dangerously ill from sepsis.
She was “too busy” with her new boyfriend.
We met accidentally after an 18-month silence, both so surprised that we laughed and talked like the old days.
Then she turned and walked away, without a word. What should I do now?
Do not reach out. You met, it was an accident that went okay, then didn’t. She hasn’t changed, you have.
You’ll never again allow someone to let you down when you most need support.
If she calls/texts, be “too busy” to get together.
FEEDBACK Regarding the man who’s delaying marriage because his sons don’t want his fiancée to inherit half/all of his house (June 15):
Reader – “I completely disagree that he should “gift” his sons money as their inheritance.
“You should’ve advised: Spend everything you have while you can with your new wife. What you accumulated during your life doesn’t belong to your children or to your ex-wife. It belongs to you to do what you want to do with it.
“I’m a father spending his children inheritance.”
Ellie – Right choice for you. But this man was uncomfortable about what to do. I wrote that, “these adult sons may be helped by you to a gifting limit that you can afford, but they should be told firmly that they’re not going to be carried as dependents indefinitely.”
I also said that he should set a wedding date, and to provide appropriately and fairly in his will for his new wife.
Tip of the day:
Contact and visit frail elderly relatives to assure that their condition/care doesn’t require intervention.