Life Advice



Ask Amy: A heartbreaking diagnosis changes everything

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My dearest friend in the world was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at a relatively young age.

We met when we were new moms, and while my family moved far away after only a few years, we have maintained an incredibly close and meaningful relationship through all the joys and sorrows of life for over 30 years now. She is my rock.

The friend who knows the good, the bad, and the ugly. And vice versa.

And now I can hear she has regressed a little every time I talk to her on the phone, and our distance is too far for me to see her regularly.

How do I handle the inevitable changes? How do I let her know I love her when she doesn’t recognize my voice anymore? How do I maintain any kind of relationship long distance? I have no map for our last journey and it is breaking my heart.

Any advice would mean so much to me.

Thank you,

– Left Behind

Dear Left Behind: My first suggestion is that you should visit your friend in person as soon as possible. Book your trip today. Bring photos to look at together, take walks, listen to music, and simply be present and experience your time together with gratitude.

I think it would be a good idea to book a room nearby, stay for a few days, and keep your daily visits short – if that works best for her.

It can be mentally challenging and emotionally heartbreaking to be with someone whose memory is failing. Your friend might have good days and tougher days – or mornings might be better for her than evenings. Don’t stress her by trying too hard to prompt memories from her, but go with her flow – wherever that takes both of you.

Down the road, you can still let your friend know that you love her, even if she doesn’t recognize your voice. If speaking by phone becomes impossible, send cards and postcards, and express your affection and gratitude.

There is no return from this heartbreak, but this is your opportunity to honor your friendship by holding her hand through this part of her journey.

Dear Amy: I’m almost 30. My grandparents are in their 80s and healthy.

They have told me that they will be leaving me money in their will and – although I’m not sure the amount, they seem to be quite prosperous.

I am considering asking them for my inheritance ahead of their passing. My experience during the pandemic has given me a very strong desire to travel for several months.

I think my grandparents might feel gratified witnessing me enjoying their legacy, but I don’t know how to ask them.

Your advice?

– Grateful Grandchild


Dear Grandchild: There are many factors here which you don’t include. These would be: Your grandparents’ health, future housing and medical needs, and their willingness to be manipulated by an adventure-seeking grandchild.

Some of this depends on the culture of your family, and of how these elders have lived their own lives.

You need to consider the possibility that watching you enjoy yourself might not be as gratifying to this elderly couple as you think.

One or both of your grandparents could live for 20 more years. The amount of your inheritance might shift based on their financial needs now and in the future.

At some point, adults who are maturing shift their values away from asking for more and toward giving more.

I endorse your plan to seek adventure, but suggest that you line up financing that doesn’t involve your grandparents.

Dear Amy: “Dreading the Dogs” has a very close friend who always brings her three dogs along when she is a houseguest.

A good and safe kennel is the answer.

– Dog Lover

Dear Dog Lover: When I got my dog, the first thing I did was to line up in-home help and a quality kennel as backup. Dogs and humans have to adjust to this separation, but I believe it’s vital.

Dear Readers: Have you ever had your question published in the “Ask Amy” column? If so, I’d love to hear from you. Did you accept or reject my advice? Was the issue you wrote about ever resolved?

As part of our ongoing conversation about human behavior and its consequences, I’d love to learn how things turned out for you.

Please – get in touch! Write to me at – write UPDATE in the subject line, and tell me your story.

I welcome the opportunity to be back in touch.


(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

©2023 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



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