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by Abigail Van Buren

Boyfriend's Mom Isn't Ready to Give Up Christmas Tradition

DEAR ABBY: I have an elderly neighbor I have been friends with for many years. Over the past several years she has had numerous medical problems. I have done everything I can to be her friend. I do things around the house, bring her meals, whatever I can. She has no family and only one other friend besides me.

She is depressed and stays in bed most of the day, which contributes to her aches and pains. I keep telling her she needs to get up and walk or her pain will get worse. It has reached the point where she's so nasty about everything that I don't even want to talk to her.

I understand that she's scared and feels beaten up. I try to talk about things that are noncontroversial -- happy things. It doesn't work. She turns everything into an argument. I don't know what to do. I hate to ignore her, but it's really taking a toll on me. Am I a fair-weather friend? -- TRYING TO BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR IN MASSACHUSETTS

DEAR GOOD NEIGHBOR: No, you are a caring friend. Your elderly neighbor is ill, and she may be becoming demented. Because she is no longer able to care for herself or her home, contact the nearest hospital or senior center and ask to speak with a social worker on staff. The woman you describe may need more help than you can give her, from people with the training to do it.