Dear Amy: I am an 85-year-old widower. My wife died three months ago.

I have a “live-in” assistant who provides meals and general assistance. Now, I want to ask my ex-wife to move in with me to provide 24/7 care.

She is 82, and is in favor of moving in with me. We’ve been divorced for 36 years.

I have two grown children from a previous marriage, and three adult stepchildren. My two agree with this idea; the stepchildren disagree.

The disagreement comes from concern over too short a period for bereavement, and also distribution of an inheritance after my passing.

They also think that my ex-wife is too old to provide effective caregiving.

Is there a “normal” grieving period? I am torn between my families. Is a compromise possible?

Amy says: The grieving process is different for everyone, but everything about your situation seems accelerated. This could be because you are panicking, or simply feel like you don’t have a lot of time to figure out this next phase of your life. Your experience witnessing your late wife’s caregiving requirements also could be influencing you.

Please understand that, no matter what you are going through, your late wife’s children are grieving. Treat them with understanding and compassion. But you must ultimately do what you believe is best for you.

If there are questions about inheritance, review your affairs and perhaps make arrangements to give your stepchildren their inheritance, or a share from their late mother’s estate, now.

My main question is why an 82-year-old woman would be eager to devote her remaining golden years to providing “24/7” care for her ex-husband? But your ex-wife is an adult, and presuming she is of sound mind, she should do what she wants.

Some questions are: Will she be compensated for the care she is providing? What will you do if she gets sick and can’t provide the care you want/require/expect?

You, she and your children should think this through and make sure that her rights and needs are acknowledged and protected, in writing.

A social worker with expertise in dealing with elder issues could help you to mediate and provide you with additional resources.

Baby registries OK

Dear Amy: I am expecting my first child — we are so excited. My question is about the upcoming baby shower.

I can’t decide if I should create a “baby registry.” Of course, I would appreciate any gift, whether or not it is from my registry.

I just thought that it might prevent duplicate gifts, as well as gifts we will not use. But my cousin (with whom I am very close) told me she finds gift registries insulting, because they are just a “dressed-up form of begging.” I certainly do not want to insult my guests, but I have to admit that my life would be easier if I could ensure that I don’t get 30 pacifiers and no bottles!

Should I still create a registry and direct my guests to it when I invite them to my shower? If so, how should I phrase this on my invitation so that I don’t seem unappreciative of gifts that are not from the registry?

Amy says: Yes, create a registry. Many new parents (and their guests) find registries helpful, for all the reasons you cite.

To speak to your cousin’s criticism — basically the shower itself is “a dressed-up form of begging.”

Don’t include registry information on your invitation, but make sure whoever is hosting your shower can pass it along to anyone who asks.


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