Life Advice



Elderly mother is caught in an anxious cycle

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My mother raised eight children. She is now in her late-70s, and lives alone.

Recently she received a cancer diagnosis and we have been taking turns getting her to appointments and helping with errands, chores, meals, etc.

We are happy to help, and tell her so.

My problem is that she gets very emotional and constantly apologizes to us, saying variations of: "Children should never have to care for their mother" and stating that she is "a burden" to us.

Constant reassurance from us is not helping.

How can we help her to understand that we want to help, and are happy to do so?


She spent many years caring for her own mother at the end of my grandmother's life, so I'm not sure if that is part of it or not.

What do you think?

– Feeling Helpless

Dear Helpless: I suspect that your mother’s lengthy experience taking care of her own mother probably is a factor informing her emotional response now.


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