Elder Care: Ticklish Times

With aging parents, midlife offspring must balance concern and control

Three years ago, the personnel director of a New York City bank began to notice that things weren't quite right at her 85-year-old mother's home in Connecticut. "The house was in total disarray," she recalls. "There were piles of unopened mail stuffed everywhere, with bills months old and unpaid. But she was writing checks to buy magazines and knickknacks to enter sweepstakes."

The woman begged her mother to clean up the house and talk about her money situation. Nothing doing--until a year later, when the older woman learned she had cancer. With some urging, she agreed to move to a supported-living...

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