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by Abigail Van Buren

Middle-Aged Homebody's Future Is a Serious Concern for Family

DEAR ABBY: Our niece "Bonnie" has severe attachment problems. She still lives in her parents' home and is well into her 50s. Her father passed away several years ago, and her mother seems to be her only friend.

Bonnie has never had a serious relationship and has spent her life at one job and with her parents. Vacations and holidays have been spent with them only. Bonnie rarely accepts an invitation unless her mom is invited, does not communicate unless we reach out to her first and is very private about the smallest details in her life.

Her mother is aging and we are wondering how Bonnie will manage once her mom is gone. How do we approach someone who seriously needs help and guidance? -- CARING AUNT IN PITTSBURGH

DEAR CARING AUNT: I can think of two ways. The first would be to discuss this privately with Bonnie's mother and ask if there is anything she would like you to do for her daughter in the event of a serious illness or her death. It is a legitimate question if Bonnie is unable to live independently, and her mother might appreciate that you cared enough to ask.

The second would be to reach out to Bonnie in the event that something does happen to her mother, and let her know that you love her and will be there for her if she needs you. Keep in mind that you cannot force help on anyone who is unwilling to accept it.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Health & Safety | Death