6/3/2024 | By Amy Dickinson

A woman believes that her elderly neighbor’s family is taking advantage of her. She suspects elder abuse but doesn’t want to be a busybody. See what Ask Amy advises.

Dear Amy:

I am wondering if I should intervene for a friend and neighbor who appears to be being taken advantage of by her daughter and granddaughter.

“Edna” and “Max” retired eight years ago. (Edna is the neighborhood piano teacher. Many children and adults have benefited from her lessons.)

Shortly after Max passed away seven years ago, Edna’s divorced, unemployed daughter, “Lara,” moved in with her. Now, Lara’s unemployed daughter (Edna’s granddaughter) has moved in bringing her four young children with her.

The last time I saw Edna, she was crying and said that her daughter and granddaughter are sponging off of her, spending her Social Security, and because the unruly children are allowed to scream, fight, and wail incessantly, she’s had to give up her piano clients. She said her daughter has talked her into a reverse mortgage so she and her granddaughter can have access to more of her money. She says she is a prisoner in her room. I provided my advice – kick them all out!

Last week, I knocked on her door and her daughter turned me away, saying Edna has dementia symptoms and cannot talk to neighbors or go outside the house.

Elderly woman looking sad since she's a victim of elder abuse.

I don’t buy it. I am worried about Edna but do not want to be a busybody.

Your advice?

– Worried

Dear Worried:

You should intervene, and do so quickly. “Just kick them out” is not practical advice when the abuse has progressed to this extent. “Edna” is trapped.

You should do a search for “Adult Protective Services” in your county and report this abuse immediately.

I would also call the police and request a “wellness check” on this very vulnerable elder.

This is not being a busybody. This is being a good friend.

News from “Ask Amy”: On May 24, Amy Dickinson shared with readers that she’s discontinuing her advice column. You can read her announcements and her reasons at

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers – ranging from when one suspects elder abuse, to incompatibility in retirement, and updated dating guidance for seniors returning to the scene. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

Amy Dickinson