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Elderly neighbour cf relative?

(25 Posts)
IAmWhatIAm Mon 22-Apr-19 22:05:26

My friends in their late 60's have an elderly neighbour with numerous health issues. She requires regular hospital visits, can't get out of the house alone and is extremely deaf making ordering of medicine etc on the phone impossible. She basically has one member of family left but this person lives a few hours drive away and when she visits (maybe once every two months) she doesn't do much other than visits, but even then I see her car come and go without her elderly relative.

My friends have been in my company when a text from the relative comes through detailing a hospital appointment. They have also declined or cancelled arrangements with me and others in order to help this lady get to hospital etc. They find it stressful and they have mentioned to the relative it would be helpful if carers could come more than once a day, perhaps the relative could do online shopping so they aren’t carrying all the shopping home on the bus, organise a taxi for hospital appointments etc. Nothing is done. It’s just as though my friends do these things and that’s that. Our local hospital does offer lifts to those in need but they collect/drop off everyone together so makes a long day with nobody inside the hospital organising food/drinks etc and the lady sat for hours before someone realised she’d been forgotten/lost it was terrible.

Anyway, does anyone have experience or advice? They don’t simply want to say they can no longer help but the strain is really too much and they don’t want her to unnecessarily suffer. The best place for her is a care home but she won’t hear of it.

Telly Mon 22-Apr-19 22:32:59

The only thing that they can do is explain to the relative that these demands are too much and while they are happy to help occasionally more practical arrangements must be made.

absent Tue 23-Apr-19 06:41:41

Sometimes unreasonable is what you do when you care about someone. They can, of course, look for some extra help from Social Services and may get it. If they choose to abandon her, she might also get some extra help or not.

hdh74 Tue 23-Apr-19 07:20:39

I think they need to talk to the relative and say that honestly can't manage to do it all but they cannot sit back and see the lady with insufficient help so they will have to ask for help for her if the relative doesn't.
If that doesn't work talk to a doctor or social worker and explain they are struggling but that this lady will be inadequately cared for - surely the authorities will have to step in with more help? If a child was being neglected, neighbours would report it to someone to get help, isn't it the same for someone elderly if they can't look after themselves?

NfkDumpling Tue 23-Apr-19 07:26:22

Personally, in their situation, I would get in touch with Social Services and explain the situation. Insist on a home visit. Also talk to the elderly ladies GP. S/he should be made aware of the situation and can also influence SS involvement.

They will need to lay it on a bit thick and say they can no longer help at all - even if in fact they are prepared to - otherwise nothing will happen. This is a situation which will only get worse.

Witzend Tue 23-Apr-19 08:14:01

Such a difficult situation. Is the lady able to pay for taxis/someone to do her shopping, etc.? I only say this because I have experience of an elderly relative who was perfectly well able to pay, but expected neighbours to provide such services for free - I think it's not so uncommon.

I agree with informing social services and stepping back - though that's all too easy to say, I know. And of course the lady would have to cooperate with SS - they can't force help on anyone unless they've been deemed to lack capacity.

sodapop Tue 23-Apr-19 08:26:56

I understand your friends don't want to withdraw their support from this lady. Unfortunately that is what they need to do to get help for her. I would give the relative, GP and Social Services a cut off point beyond which your friends will be unable to help. I would not formally offer occasional help either as this will escalate again. Your friends will help in an emergency but they don't need to say this.

tanith Tue 23-Apr-19 10:18:41

I agree it’s the only way to get her the help she so obviously needs.

DoraMarr Tue 23-Apr-19 10:35:23

What happens when the neighbours are away? or sick themselves? This is not sustainable, and they need to tell the distant relative that they will have to arrange permanent care, as they are no longer able to help.

BradfordLass72 Tue 23-Apr-19 11:28:19

This is a situation which needs tough-love. Your caring neighbours need to pull back and let Social Service aware of this lady's needs.

I have only once, in long experience met anyone who actually wanted to go into a rest home. However, if they are assessed as needing daily/nightly care, then that is where they need to be.

By the same token, the many people I've dealt with who ended up in rest home care, say, after about 2 months, they love it.
The company, the regular meals and laundry care, the trips, medication and most of all the lifting of life's many little stresses make them very grateful for the change.

sodapop Tue 23-Apr-19 11:55:20

Sadly a large proportion of care homes are not up those standards now Bradfordlass

SparklyGrandma Tue 23-Apr-19 11:58:00

I agree with most answers, don’t ask the relative for help, find out who her social worker is and speak to them with a cut off date.

fourormore Tue 23-Apr-19 15:25:39

I was in the same position as your friends Iam- sadly, our neighbour did not have a social worker but GPs etc. would not speak to me as I am not the 'patient'
In our case the family have no interest until they want something. We are happy to be the first response on her emergency alarm and obviously would not see her come to any harm. We have in fact, saved her from various scams etc. that she has fallen for following telephone cold calls.
However, your friends have to protect themselves as well - they (and we!) were putting ourselves at risk of unfounded accusations etc. Who knows if the family would allege a diamond ring or something is missing? Sad - but that is how it is these days.
We have told one of her family members about our concerns and told them how we saved her from one big scam that could have cost her over £3000 but amazingly he appeared totally disinterested.
Reluctantly we have decided to pull back (except for any emergency of course) but should we need to rescue her or she gets scammed again we will be contacting the council safeguarding team direct.
It is sad but your friends need to cover themselves these days and I wish them every blessing as I know what they feel like.

IAmWhatIAm Tue 23-Apr-19 15:43:28

Thank you for all the responses.

When I see my friends later in the week I will voice the advice here.

The lady can afford to pay for all care she needs so no issue there, other than that she doesn’t seem to want help from anyone other than those who help her currently. She even tried to stop the carers coming and only kept them on under duress!

B9exchange Tue 23-Apr-19 15:51:24

I'm afraid that the attitude of the relative, and of social services, is that as long as someone is giving input, they don't have to. They will only take action when they are told that all help will be stopped, and you will have to mean it.

If the lady has the money to pay for care, but is relying on you instead, that is really taking advantage, and you need to stand your ground. Once they see you are serious, things will happen, but you need to be firm and stick to it. Of course you will be there for emergencies, but don't do anything else until a proper care package is in place, at which point you can decide if you want to do anything else.

Nannynoodles Tue 23-Apr-19 17:51:51

As one who worked for social services in an elderly care team for many years can I just point out that it is not possible to arrange services for people if they don’t agree to it if they still have the capacity to make their own decisions.
Many times I would have loved to have arranged carers/ daycare etc to benefit both the client and family but if the elderly person understands and refuses help nothing can be done.
In some areas volunteer groups eg the Red Cross may have volunteers who will accompany people to hospital appointments but unfortunately it all comes down to cost, Social Services just don’t have the budget to pay for a carer to sit in the hospital for hours on end.
Sometimes, sadly, it does need everyone to just pull back and a near crisis to happen before the person realises they need to accept more help and support from outside their current network.
I suggest you try and explain to the lady that the situation can’t continue as it is and if you really think she doesn’t fully understand then the GP can arrange to have her capacity assessed but this is not easy as it leads down the safeguarding route.
Unfortunately without knowing the relatives own situation and other commitments maybe a visit every couple of months is all she can manage (or is prepared to do).

M0nica Wed 24-Apr-19 15:49:31

They should just tell the relative that they cannot provide care for tis elderly lady anymore and say that he relative must make alternative arrangements.

If the older woman suffers some difficulty and inconvenience because she still insists on staying home when she cannot manage, that is her choice and it might just tip the balance if something goes wrong and she is unable to do anything about it.

I have very little time for people who do not care how much inconvenience they cause other people, in their determination to stay in their own home

Most of us want to stay in our own home for as long as possible but have to realise that a time may come when we cannot do so and must accept the inevitable. When my DF was in hospital with an illness that suddenly turned fatal, he was already planning to go into care when he came out because he realised he would no longer be able to manage when he got home without a stream of carers and my DS and I did not live close to him. He knew which homes he would consider moving into and which he wanted to avoid. He knew he wanted to stay in the same town where he had a large social network . I intend to be equally hard headed and have already told DC that I do not want them knackering themselves trying to care for me.

David1968 Thu 25-Apr-19 10:59:02

Lots of good advice here, IamwhatIam, so can I just make one suggestion. Might it be worth your friends putting something in writing to the relative, so that the relative can't try to "wriggle out" and pretend not to to understand that your friends are withdrawing their support? Perhaps a letter to the relative, stating very clearly that they (your friends) are contacting the local Social Services - and why. (A copy of this letter could go to Social Services alongside the friends' referral.) This would then be a very clear statement to both the relative and SS - and (IMO) - should ensure that matters are taken seriously.

Winniewit Sat 08-Jun-19 12:22:48

We have been through the same situation with an elderly NDN.
Although she could afford to pay for care she only insisted on us and a couple of other people to help her.
She eventually agreed to have the emergency call button installed. Unbeknown to me and without asking me she had put my name down as the first point of contact. I didnt know about this until they rang me at 1-30am to ask me to go and put her back to bed.
The more we did for the more she expected.
Eventually we had to distance ourselves. It's such a very difficult situation. Your friends help and well being comes first.
What would this lady do if your friends were on holiday?

Buffybee Sat 08-Jun-19 12:46:48

As your friends are finding this all too much and let's face it, who wouldn't, it's hard enough when it's your own relative.
As the lady has capacity, I think that your friends should speak to her, instead of trying to "go round the houses" with Doctors and Social Services.
They need to tell "her" that it's all becoming too much for them.
They could perhaps offer to get her shopping online and delivered to her, that would save them carrying bags on the bus.
Also, I'm afraid that I would let the hospital take over with the picking up in the ambulance for hospital visits, if she won't take herself there in a Taxi. You could tell them to remind her to take a sandwich and drink with her, as these won't be provided and it will be a long day for her.
Taking a stand on both these things would be a massive relief for them, without totally abandoning her.
I'm afraid if this doesn't work out, they should stop all help and ring Social Services and let them deal with it all.
This will be difficult for them to do as the lady will "pull at their heartstrings" but old people can be cunning and as long as they keep giving, she will keep on taking.
They need to look after their own health and well being.

Alexa Sat 08-Jun-19 13:18:29

The elderly lady is going to deteriorate and will need more care than you and your friends can provide at present.

She needs a social worker visit to make a care package .

Winniewit, the emergency call firm had no right to name you as first responder without consulting you. I am shocked. I have found the emergency call firm I use seriously wanting in several respects. When I fell the responder asked my neighbour without my consent to keep my spare door key.
I think that it would be really good if you and your friends could supervise the carers and services after she gets her care package sorted. It is a lot to ask and I ask because I'd be in real difficulties, independent as I am, if my sons did not supervise how I meet my needs.

Starlady Sat 08-Jun-19 13:53:42

It's very kind of you Iam to try to help your friends and very kind of them to be helping their neighbor. I hope they contact Social Services and that this leads to a better situation.

However, if the elderly lady refuses to accept carers, IMO, they will have to be strong and withdraw their help, anyway, except perhaps in the case of an emergency. One of the reasons elderly people refuse carers, IMO, is that they think they can count on relatives, friends, or neighbors to do what needs to be done. Unfortunately, sometimes, I'm afraid they have to be shown that this isn't going to happen before they agree to accept a professional carer. In this case, the reluctant relative may have to be shown, too.

mosaicwarts Sat 08-Jun-19 16:12:54

Poor neighbours sad

My friend ran herself ragged helping an elderly and very needy neighbour, she spent so many lunch hours doing his shopping, washing his clothing and bed linen etc - only to be accused of stealing cash from his drawer when he passed away. Upon his death relatives suddenly appeared out of the woodwork and she wasn't even thanked for giving her time voluntarily for the last five years of his life.

I hope something can be done to help all three of them.

notanan2 Sat 08-Jun-19 16:43:15

Social services have spoken directly with me re what I can/cant do for a neighbour that I have supported even though Im not next of kin

Winniewit Sat 08-Jun-19 19:56:36

Urge your friends to ween off their help as soon as they can.
The NDN I had eventually had carers calling twice a day. She was such a nasty disagreeable person and had a long list of careers who were ' barred' from the house.
I have to admit that a put a silent service on my phone so it didn't ring during the night.. because she would ring because she'd messed the bed and wanted cleaning up etc. I am a trained nurse but I wasn't willing to do this. I also had calls to unblock the toilet. I had to tell her to get a plumber. She might have been an elderly lady but she was well able to orchestrate her affairs from her arm chair.