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To think neighbour was right out of order. Sorry, very long!

(128 Posts)
Witzend Thu 07-May-20 10:07:59

We have some very frail, very elderly neighbours who we’ve known for many years - a lovely and formerly glamorous couple, so it’s doubly sad to see them like this.

Over recent years we’ve told them repeatedly to ring us if they need any help, but lately it’s become more frequent. He has a lot of mobility difficulties now and falling for both of them has become more frequent.

Both are unable to help the other get up, so we’ve been called on twice very recently to help, with that and other things. Before anyone says it, if there’s any question that they’re hurt we call an ambulance but most often it’s not the case, so since they’re both very light, dh has always been able to manage.

Now of course there the virus worry about seeing them - not so much from them, since they don’t go out, but because they regularly have carers in. Dh went yesterday (with gloves and mask) to help after another fall, but because the wife evidently feels bad about asking us (as she’s said so many times) she also called on another neighbour who has rarely helped before, to assist.
That neighbour, however, asked dh to come and help.

After the necessary help had been given, one of the couple phoned their son, who lives not too far away and does visit fairly often.

This other neighbour insisted on speaking to him, and right in front of the elderly couple told him in very forthright tones that it was high time they were both in a home. She then said the same to the couple, in similarly blunt tones. (All related to me later by dh.)

Should add that both have their marbles intact, and the son has often urged them to move a lot closer to him, but they have never wanted to. And TBH given their ages and states of health, I can’t see how it’d be managed now, not to mention that such a change and general disruption would probably be the beginning of the end for them. I don’t think an actual care home has ever been suggested, though.

I really did think the neighbour was right out of order to say such a thing in front of - and directly to - the couple, who were obviously distressed anyway. If she’d wanted to speak to the son and say that, she could have done so later, in private - we have his number. She’s obviously a very brisk, no-nonsense type who doesn’t mince words, but to me it was tactless and insensitive.

At the moment, and for the foreseeable future, unless there’s really no alternative, who on earth is going to be putting anyone in a care home anyway - even if they’re willing to go? Not to mention that you can’t ‘put’ anyone with mental capacity if they don’t choose to go.

Maybe I’m BU but the lack of sensitivity to a lovely couple really bothered me. The ‘forthright’ neighbour has not known the couple nearly as long as we have, so presumably just thinks of them as pathetic oldies who need to be firmly told what’s good for them, rather than the smart, active people we knew before.

Septimia Thu 07-May-20 10:29:05

No, you're not BU. Clearly this other neighbour doesn't know them as well as you and doesn't have the same empathy. I know people who have put parents in care homes when I would have looked after them at home - because that's where they were happy. It's only when they, or the family, really can't manage physically and mentally that a care home becomes an answer.

My FiL stayed at home and managed very well until the last couple of years, when he gradually deteriorated. The last time he went into hospital it was clear that being at home was no longer safe for him due to his Alzheimers and we would have had to look for a care home had he recovered from the fall that hospitalised him. But that was a different situation.

If your neighbours still have their marbles then the decision is theirs and your other neighbour was very insensitive. I'd suggest to the couple that they don't ask for her help again.

Grannyjay Thu 07-May-20 10:40:27

You have obviously built a good relationship with your neighbours and your other neighbour is making a judgement on her personal findings at that time. Your lovely elderly neighbours are of sound mind and can make their own decisions on where they want to live. The curt neighbour may have the forthright personality without empathy as she obviously doesn’t seem to have that same rapport as you do. Personally I would be concerned about moving the elderly into a home at this present time and maybe the best option would be to increase carer visits to ensure they are safe and have a occupational therapist visit to look at the home and ways of making it safer.

Witzend Thu 07-May-20 11:43:12

Thank you both, I thought maybe I was BVU. Dh was at least partly defending her by saying she ‘meant well’ but to me that was not the point. I’m sure ‘S/he meant well’ would be an apt epitaph for a good many people who enjoy saying exactly what they think with no regard for anyone else’s feelings.

vampirequeen Thu 07-May-20 12:02:53

It's rare that my mouth drops open in horror but it did today. You're definitely not BU. That neighbour was totally out of order.

EllanVannin Thu 07-May-20 12:11:08

Before my next door neighbours went into separate nursing/residential homes I was " on-call " round the clock with both of them----it was like the blind leading the blind as I was the same age as them.
The H had dementia and would wander and his wife used to fall.

They had family but too far away to make regular visits and carers went in, but it was nearly always night-time when problems began and I'd be called upon but I was there without hesitation.

I did this for nearly 5 years and admit to it taking its toll on myself, but nevertheless it didn't once enter my head that they should go in a home, even when I'd be scouring the local area looking for the old boy who'd decided to wander at night.

Then another time when my front door was daubed in blood when the wife was knocking after a fall at 03.40am with a split head. I did phone for the ambulance being the head area, then had to bring the old man into my place.

It was the son who, in the end arranged for them to go into homes and I did miss them a lot after that, but I'd have continued to look after them until I dropped.

It doesn't take much for some people to " dispense " of their elderly parents and I think it's dreadful. I feel very strongly on this subject.
They've looked after us so it's only right that we look after them, they didn't ask to suffer.

SirChenjin Thu 07-May-20 12:13:57

No YANBU - your neighbour sounds like an overbearing know it all with very little in the way of compassion or kindness sad. A care home is the very last place your elderly neighbours need to be, so if you’re happy to continue to help them when they need it I would suggest you emphasise to them that they are not to call the other neighbour again and that you’re genuinely there for them if they need it.

You found lovely - I wish all elderly, vulnerable people had a neighbour like you thanks

SirChenjin Thu 07-May-20 12:14:34


Alexa Thu 07-May-20 12:21:45

Your neighbour was rude. Maybe if you knew this neighbout better you would be accustomed to their being outspoken to the point of rudeness.

Maybe the neighbour felt guilty for not being as helpful as they would like to be.

I think too that this neighbour especially lacked compassion that they spoke as if the old man and woman were not free agents.

If I may say so I think you are doing a wonderful job.

Lucca Thu 07-May-20 12:31:44

You describe neighbour as brisk no nonsense other words unpleasant !I always think those who describe themselves as “I speak as I find” types use it as an excuse to be rude!
Well done to you for your caring attitude.

sodapop Thu 07-May-20 12:33:07

The other neighbour was rude and insensitive, however well intentioned her comments were. Your neighbours are lucky having you there to help Witzend you are a kind and caring person.
I do think though that when the son is able to travel to see his parents you need to talk to him about more care input for them. Their needs will increase over time and you should not be expected to take this on.

Although your original post was long it was easy to read as it was in paragraphs, wish everyone would do that.

Mapleleaf Thu 07-May-20 12:46:14

To be frank, your neighbour who came to help was being extremely rude. It was not her place to say to the couple and to their son, that they should be in a home - it's none of her business and was way out of order. So, no, I do not think you are being unreasonable at all. Just who does this neighbour think she is? I sincerely hope that the couple and their son have not been upset by her outburst. How dare she? I don't know about being " a brisk and no nonsense type*, she strikes me more as an "insensitive think she knows it all type" without any manners.

Nannarose Thu 07-May-20 12:47:54

Your neighbour was unreasonable, but this couple do need to consider that they cannot ask for such help on more than the odd occasion.
It could have been done much more tactfully, but I am aware from personal experience of how 'twice recently' becomes quite frequent. Also 'able to manage' can become 'difficult to manage' without the couple quite realising.

My advice would be that whilst being helpful, you do allow the possibility of needing extra care to sink in. Otherwise you may find that you get called more frequently. It is a great shame this was not done in a more pleasant way, but please, in your own desire to be helpful, don't put yourselves in a difficult position.

Susan56 Thu 07-May-20 13:13:52

Witzend,no you are not being unreasonable at all in my opinion.

A few months ago,one of my mother’s neighbours asked me if they could have first refusal when we sell her house.I was furious and just said you may have a long wait as my grandma died at 101.My mother was really upset and thought we were wanting to put her in a home.

I think the neighbour was way out of order and really hope your elderly neighbours and their son aren’t too upset.

Witzend Thu 07-May-20 13:14:33

Thank you for all your replies.

I should make clear that the ‘forthright’ neighbour (we don’t know her very well) is usually perfectly pleasant. I don’t know whether it’s a cultural thing to ‘speak your mind’ - I know this is definitely a ‘thing’ with Swedes (we have a very close Swedish friend who happily admits it) and v likely with other Scandis - and by all accounts with Dutch people too, however this neighbour is German.
Maybe it’s a bit of a thing with them, too - or maybe she’s just like a (Brit) aunt of mine who’s always prided herself on speaking her mind, and has thus upset plenty of people over the years.

Grandmafrench Thu 07-May-20 13:21:04

You say the neighbour who "helped" is a "brisk, no-nonsense type". How many times is that phrase used when really all it means is bloody rude.

Hopefully your neighbours have recovered. Hopefully, and when they are ready, they will be able to make better arrangements with their own family as to what the future holds. In the meantime, nobody's else's business.

BlueBelle Thu 07-May-20 13:46:44

O my word I m so cross on your behalf The neighbour was well out of order and the last place this old couple should be is in a care home Every area has a falls nurse and they can visit the old couple and set up all sort of occupational help around the house including falls knickers that are padded around the hips
Do they have walking frames holding bars in toilets and bathrooms stair life if needed There are so many things they will be able to get to help them better manage their own home

Ring the GP and ask to be put through to the falls nurse

SuzannahM Thu 07-May-20 14:27:11

I'm gobsmacked. And horrified that someone would speak to anyone like that, let alone a frail, elderly couple. It doesn't matter how well you know someone, that is downright rude.

Some people should be born with zips that can only be undone for very short periods.

As someone who is far away from elderly, frail parents it's nice to know that there are still kind people like you around.

eazybee Thu 07-May-20 16:25:37

It was deeply insensitive of her to speak like that.
It is good that your neighbours will ask you for help; my father never would ask, although both sides were more than willing and offered many times. Their son must be immensely grateful to you; I lived along distance away and occasionally the neighbours would alert me to trouble and I was able to come.
All you can do is reassure them that you like to help, and would be very hurt if they didn't call on you.

Eloethan Thu 07-May-20 17:01:50

Witzend. You are not being at all unreasonable. The bossy neighbour had absolutely no right whatsoever to interfere in the lives of these elderly people. She obviously thought she had, just because she was called upon to help on one occasion.

My feeling is this neighbour wasn't really concerned about your neighbours' wellbeing but was bothered that she might be called upon again to assist. I have had similar experiences with my Mum. People telling me she ought to go into a home, even though she wants to stay in her own home and manages quite well with a bit of support. It is because they don't want to be bothered.

I do understand that, if it becomes too difficult and stressful for a relative, friend or neighbour to be constantly called upon in difficult situations, they might feel they have no option but to say they can no longer do it and to suggest an alternative. That really doesn't seem to apply in respect of your bossy neighbour.

To discuss this matter in front of your elderly neighbours was absolutely out of order - and if I had been the recipient of the phone call I think I would have been very upset.

I think you and your husband are truly good, caring and kind people.

Witzend Thu 07-May-20 18:44:48

There was yet another fall today, so it probably is getting a bit much, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell them - or their son - that we’re not prepared to help any more.

Luckily the falls have so far not resulted in any fractures or real damage, but I can imagine that sooner or later ‘something’ will happen that will mean at least one of them will need a care or nursing home. From experience, both my own and other people’s, there will often be a crisis of some sort eventually, which will mean that there is no alternative.

Should add that I’m not against care homes on principle. Both a parent of mine and an in-law were in very good care homes for some years, but both had dementia which had reached a point where 24/7 care and supervision had become an urgent necessity and it couldn’t realistically be provided any other way.
We did have my FiL living with us first for quite a while, but eventually it became just too physically and mentally exhausting for me to cope with any more, especially when my dh was often away for work.

Tangerine Thu 07-May-20 21:22:39

I think your neighbour was rude and insensitive to speak to the elderly couple's son in front of them and in such a manner.

Maybe she had a point but she could have made it more tactfully and privately.

There are ways and means....

You are not unreasonable and I agree with other posters who have said that, unless it was absolutely unavoidable, a care home is the last place to put anyone at the moment.

agnurse Thu 07-May-20 22:12:59

While the neighbour was rude, if the falls are increasing that's absolutely an issue. Even one fall increases the risk for a second fall. Your neighbours do have the right to live at risk as long as they're cognitively intact. But I think some gentle encouragement may be in order - "I've noticed that you've had a few falls recently. I'm concerned that these could signal risks for health issues. You may like to talk to your GP about ways to reduce your falls risk and ways to prevent an injury if you do fall."

OutsideDave Fri 08-May-20 01:33:03

Recurrent falls are associated with an increased risk of death in the elderly. Your neighbor was right to say it’s unsafe for them to continue in their home, and something needs to be arranged for their care. I wouldn’t have said it in front of them necessarily but I would have definitely had a talk with their son and then later spoken with them.

Gummie Fri 08-May-20 08:58:04

Sounds like your neighbour was very tactless and insensitive. But at the same time there maybe something in what they were rudely saying. Perhaps the family do need to take some more initiative for these elderly people and not keep relying on your kindness and the help of neighbours.

I don’t know what the answer is and pretty sure no one wants to be in a care home now, but perhaps something needs to be done by the family.