DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have an elderly (90-plus) aunt who lives with her son in a town about four 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.
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 is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.