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LifestyleColumnistsAsk Amy

Ailing sibling struggles to care for aging parents

DEAR AMY: I'm the youngest of four grown children. I'm currently trying to care for our aging parents by myself. I hold a full-time job and I've been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Once a week, I will spend the day cleaning my parents' house, mowing their lawn, bathing my mother and doing their laundry. I've asked my siblings on numerous occasions to help, only to receive empty promises. They leave it to me, knowing that my body is weak and sore. What breaks my heart is that they can't take the time to help our parents, but they are eager to get their hands on their assets after they pass. How do you think I should handle this situation?

Overwhelmed

DEAR OVERWHELMED: The stress and physical work involved in your housecleaning and lawn care for your folks is bad for your own health. If you aren't well, you will not be able to help your parents. Assume that your siblings will simply not step up, so explore all alternatives to you doing this yourself.

Start by contacting your local Office on Aging for elder care resources in your community. If your parents have enough money in the bank to leave their children money after their deaths, then they should pay for these services now.

Schedule a conference call with your siblings to discuss your parents' practical needs -- and the alternatives and resources available to them.

If you decide to continue to provide this care yourself, The Family Caregiver Alliance (caregiver.org) offers recommendations for drawing up a "personal care agreement" with your parents; this is a contract outlining specific duties you will perform for them, as well as compensation attached to these duties.

As it is, you should keep track of the hours you spend doing these caretaking jobs for your parents. You can make a claim to the executor of your parents' estate for reimbursement.

DEAR AMY: My husband is over 60. Several months ago, he received a friend request on Facebook from a young woman he used to work with. She is in her early 20s. She posts many pictures on Facebook. Many of the photos that I have seen show her in very low-cut tops, short shorts and sultry selfies. When I tell him that I think the photos are inappropriate, he responds by saying she sent him a friend request, so what else could he do but "friend" her. I realize many young women post lots of these pictures on social media, but I am embarrassed and hurt that my husband sees all of these photos every week. I sometimes think he is becoming a "dirty old man!" Am I making too much of this?

Sad Wife

DEAR SAD WIFE: Yes.

I'm not defending your husband's actions -- or his ignorance or innocence about Facebook ("friend requests" are often sent out to everyone in a person's contact list -- it is not necessarily a personally motivated request), but surely you realize that your husband could view the same thing he is looking at on Facebook by flipping through the pages of just about any magazine.

However, if he wants to ease your mind, it would be very easy for him to "hide" this individual's posts.

And -- a note to your husband: Every young woman I know is fairly grossed out when a person in her parents' generation creeps on her Facebook page, even if "invited" to be there.

DEAR AMY: I just wanted to offer one more note of support to "Upset Engineer" and let this young female chemical engineer know that the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) is another great resource for early career advice and help. Chemical engineering is a great career choice, and it can serve a lot of industries, including aerospace, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, along with more traditional petroleum or chemical industries. It has served me well for 28 years, and I, too, got a slow start in finding my first engineering job.

Wendy, staff engineer, Honeywell

DEAR WENDY: The outpouring of support from women engineers for this young "Upset Engineer" is so heartening. I hope she's paying attention.

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