Dear Amy: I am a 45-year-old married woman with three children. I volunteer for a nonprofit organization and through this work I met an older woman (58) in this group. "Carol" was very nice, but over the past two years, she's become very attached to me. This makes me uncomfortable.

She messages me over Facebook every morning and every night, and texts me multiple times a day. She stops by unannounced and is very much in my space. She is very touchy.

She sends extravagant gifts to me and my family frequently. I'm trying to be nice; I don't want to hurt her. But other than the nonprofit, we have nothing in common.

She gets angry when I don't respond to her and messages my children, telling them I'm "shutting her out." That's crossing the line. I just don't know what to do. I wish I had never met her. Help!

Amy says: This is concerning. You don't say how old your children are or how well they know Carol, but she should not be sending messages to them at all — and certainly not as a way to get to you.

You need to convey to her that it is necessary for you to have stronger boundaries with her and that she needs to respect them. Tell her, "I've enjoyed working with you, but I am not going to move forward in friendship outside of our work together. I'm feeling crowded. I don't feel comfortable with you stopping by the house or sending gifts to us. My spouse and I don't want adults to contact our children without our permission. I'm asking you to respect these boundaries."

You should speak with your supervisor to let them know what's happening and that you're trying to handle this situation. You might ask not to have your hours overlap with Carol's. Save and print out any unwanted contact from her, and if she escalates, you also might have to escalate your response by considering a no-contact order.

A neighbor in trouble

Dear Amy: I am wondering if I should intervene for a friend and neighbor who appears to be being taken advantage of by her family.

"Edna" is the neighborhood piano teacher. Many children and adults have benefited from her lessons. Shortly after her husband 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 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. I don't buy it. I am worried about Edna but do not want to be a busybody. What is your advice?

Amy says: 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.

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