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Always being on call for my elderly neighbour.

(114 Posts)
GrannyGrunter Thu 30-Nov-23 13:31:37

I am 81 years of age and have a neighbour the same age. She has a large family but they just do not bother with her as she has a very sharp tongue.

When she found out that I am very technically minded (she does not have broadband, a computer etc.) she is always asking me to go round and fix her television, the problem is she has no idea how to use the tv remote. I made a list out of things she needed to know but it never sinks in.

She asked me to go shopping with her but it ended up with me carrying the bags and pushing the trolley. When we go for a cup of coffee and a cake, she always sits down at the table so I have to queue for the food and then she never gives me the cost of her meal. When I tell her I am going for a look around the store she wants to come with me but then says she is tired and wants to go home.

I can also make clothes and do any alterations to skirts etc. I told her about my hobby now she wants to come round to my house so I can shorten all her skirts for her. I told our sons about her (my husband died 9 years ago) and they have told me to keep away and let her own family sort her out. She keeps ringing me about something she needs doing and I am now making excuses. She has rung me three times this morning and I have ignored her calls, I look at the phone screen and when I see it is her I do not answer the phone. I am not young myself and if I want a job doing I call for a repair man and pay for it. I don't want to be looking after someone else.

AGAA4 Thu 30-Nov-23 13:54:19

You are a very kind neighbour Grannygrunter and this woman is
taking advantage of you. Your sons are right you need to keep away from her and concentrate on looking after yourself.
You can either just block her calls or tell her that you are unable to keep doing things for her as it is too much for you.

Dee1012 Thu 30-Nov-23 14:02:58

I totally agree with AGAA4

You've shown a lot of patience and kindness to your neighbour but I'd suggest enough is enough...for your sake.

Auntieflo Thu 30-Nov-23 14:08:16

Totally agree with the advice given above. Time to look after yourself

Judy54 Thu 30-Nov-23 14:08:22

Yes you are indeed kind and caring but you or your Sons need to tell her that as someone the same age as her you are unable to continue helping her and She must ask her own family for support. I would also be inclined to invent some medical ailments (you may or may not have these) and say that your health prevents you from taking on these tasks. Alternatively ask her for some help with things that you need doing and see what response you get. It is likely to be negative which tells you all you need to know about someone who is a taker and not a giver. Look after yourself first and foremost and enjoy your lovely family.

ExDancer Thu 30-Nov-23 14:17:13

I'm 85 next month and have become the 'go to' person for giving free lifts for a similar lady so I know what you mean.
Even if you don't have arthritis, its a good excuse to use - "No I can't come round to fix the TV my arthritic ankle and doctor says it needs to be rested. Why not ask your son/grandson/nephew?"
"My back's playing up again, why not phone AgeUK?" and give her the number.
"The arthritis in my right hand means I keep dropping my needle so I'm not able to sew at the moment." (you could always look up local seamstresses and jot the numbers down ready by your phone.

That is if you're like me and lack the bottle to tell her straight out that you are too busy, as AgaA suggests!

Serendipity22 Thu 30-Nov-23 14:21:03

Ohh heck, part of me is saying ohh poor lady but part of me is saying don't get roped in.

Her family should be asked to do A,B and C, it is not your place to be filling the gap. I understand she needs things doing, that much is obvious but it really isn't your place and I am thinking she IS taking your kindness for granted.

You are a lovely person to be doing all you do for her, you really are, but a lot of what you say really does shout out 'taken for granted'.

She maybe doesn't ask her family because she knows they will not do it, but by her own attitude ( sharpe tongue ) it seems she only has herself to blame for the way things are BUT then I think why is she like this? Whatever the reason is, it most certainly is not YOUR problem to solve.

Well done to you for allllll you have done... 💐

The old, old saying springs to mind

Serendipity22 Thu 30-Nov-23 14:22:53

Oooops missed the ending ( hahahaha )

The old saying you reap what you sew.

Madgran77 Thu 30-Nov-23 14:29:09

I think you need to be honest with her. Tell her that you quite simply do not have the energy any more to be sorting out your own needs and also dealing with all of hers. That she will need to ask her family or get workmen in!

But also I think that you could deal with some of the things you mention in a different way:

*The TV remote ..tell her to look at the list you gave her written down and pinned by the TV. Or stuck on back of remote
* Shopping - if she is tired and wants to go home tell her you havent finished and to find a seat back in the cafe and you will come when you have finished
*Coffee and cake - tell her you quite simply cant afford to keep paying for both of you so please could you have some money to pay for hers!

She may get huffy if you do this. Then tell her "Fine, you will need to
find someone else to help then!"

By doing all of this she will either accept and compromise or leave you alone. Possibly unpleasantly initially I know but you can just reiterate the above. Dont let her guilt trip you. flowers

WhatamIdoinghere Thu 30-Nov-23 14:33:07

Years ago when I was at work I went on an Assertiveness Training course, and one of the exercises was to practice saying 'no'. No excuses, no apology, no fudging. We had to work with a partner and ask each other questions, eg. 'will you give me a lift home?'...'No'. 'Will you swop shifts with me?' ... 'No'. 'Will you have some cake? ... 'No'. It was incredibly empowering, but I must admit I have rarely used the technique in real life. However I think this lady is taking the p**s and perhaps a blunt 'no' might be a better answer and have a longer-term effect than stressing because you don't want to pick up the phone (well, I'd be stressing!).

I wouldn't make up reasons - it's too easy to get caught out if you forget what you've said - but if a plain 'no' feels impossible then I agree with just saying you are busy - which is true, you are busy with your own life!

I hope you find a way of getting her off your back - I suppose it partly depends on whether you want to continue to have a friendly relationship with her. But remember, your wants and needs are just as important as hers (something else we were taught on that course!). Good luck!

GrannyGrunter Thu 30-Nov-23 14:36:24

Thank you all for your kind advice.

The phone rang just half an hour ago and I picked it up without thinking and it was my neighbour. She was annoyed that I had not taken her call this morning or again at lunchtime so I told her I did have other things to do besides answering the phone when it rang. She asked me what I was doing so I just said I was very busy sorting out decorations for Christmas, plates and glasses etc. that were packed away in the laundry room for when I will be hosting our family.

I asked her what she wanted and she asked me when I could shorten her skirts for her. I played dumb and asked her why she didn't take them to an alterations store but she said that they charge too much for doing it and because she had me I could do them for nothing.

I lied and told her it would have to be after the New year as I was busy with hospital appointments and meeting friends for lunch. She said she wanted them doing earlier than that so I said, just take one to the alterations shop and then I will know what length you want them shortening to.

I dread the phone ringing. When it was summer and I didn't answer the phone because I was sitting in the garden she would come round to my home and yell, yoohoo through the gate. She said she had come for a coffee with me.

I don't tell lies and I am not happy with having to lie to her but I feel as though I cannot go anywhere without her wanting to go with me. I dare not tell her if I am going into town as she wants to go with me. I am a very fit person for my age and can walk miles but she can't, she is very bad on her feet and cannot carry anything so if we go out together I am the one carrying the bags, helping her on and off the bus
and it takes us ages to get anywhere as she always wants to go for a coffee and cake as she is tired but I am the one paying. The last time I gave her the receipt and said it comes to £8 each, she just said, she will pay the next time. When the next time came, I got the food we wanted and gave her the bill for her to pay and she just said, I will pay for mine and you can pay for yours. She is so mean. She lives around the corner from me and sees me when I go out, I cannot get away from her.

sodapop Thu 30-Nov-23 15:01:29

Seems like you are just going to have to lay it on the line GrannyGrunter no easy way round it. Tell your neighbour you are not able to help her any more, don't try to cut down on what you do as it seems she will not take no for an answer.
If you don't feel up to the confrontation then ask one of your family to help,
Continue to enjoy your own life, sounds like a full and happy one.

Germanshepherdsmum Thu 30-Nov-23 15:04:45

I think you will only get away from her by being blunt, just as she is. I don’t tell lies either so I understand your reluctance to make up a medical ailment as an excuse. Difficult though it is, can you pluck up the courage to tell her that you’ve really had enough of sorting out all her problems, giving her lifts everywhere, carrying her shopping like a beast of burden, paying for her coffee and cake and generally being used? Don’t accept the skirts for shortening. And block her phone number. You’re not getting anything but aggro in return for your kindness. She’ll find someone else to use. People like her always do.

AGAA4 Thu 30-Nov-23 15:12:40

Just remember when you feel like relenting that your neighbour is using you and doesn't have your welfare at heart. If you don't like confrontation avoid her as much as you can and see if you can block her calls. If she does catch you don't tell her where you are going. It's not her business and I would never go into a cafe with her again. She is a sponger.

Fleur20 Thu 30-Nov-23 15:17:28

The phrase you are looking for is..' No, it doesn't suit.'
And if she asks what you mean... 'It doesn't suit ME'.
You don't give a reason ... you just keep repeating... 'It doesn't suit me'.

She is a user.
Perhaps you could block her number on your phone?
If she comes to the gate... you are busy/on the phone... just have it in your hand, wave and turn your back on her.
If she approaches you in the street... you are en route to an appointment... and walk faster!

NannyJan53 Thu 30-Nov-23 15:17:41

I asked her what she wanted and she asked me when I could shorten her skirts for her. I played dumb and asked her why she didn't take them to an alterations store but she said that they charge too much for doing it and because she had me I could do them for nothing.

For me this says it all. She is a user, and will never change. You need to learn to say No, this doesn't work for me/cannot do it etc

pascal30 Thu 30-Nov-23 15:28:30

It's awkward that she sees you when you go out, and she probably looks for you.. I think you have to be very honest with her and tell her that you have your own life and don't wish her to continue using you.. also tell her not to phone any more.. it shouldn't surprise her as she has alienated her own family but she'll probably be very persistant. Just keep saying NO

Germanshepherdsmum Thu 30-Nov-23 15:29:34

And walking quickly!

GrannyGrunter Thu 30-Nov-23 15:35:15

Thank you all so very much, some great ideas but my problem is that I am a YES person, it is not that I don't like saying NO to anyone it is the fact that I don't want to cause an argument as I cannot do with confrontation.

I know her family never take her out anywhere, never invite her to their homes and they have four of them where each member of the family live so she is not short of places to go (if she was invited). Part of me feels sorry for her and the other part makes me want to pick up the phone and ring her sons and daughters in law and tell them off but I know what they are also like, they are all about themselves. When she was in hospital. All her family went to her home and sorted through her belongings and paperwork. When they left they turned off the central heating so she came home to a freezing cold house in January. I know this because another neighbour came round and told me about it so I went to see if she was okay and she told me that all her private papers were mixed up and her family had turned off the heating. I do feel sorry for her and if I stopped helping her she would have no-one. If I had known she was coming out of hospital that night I would have gone to the hospital and come home with her but I thought her family would be there, unfortunately I have found out what kind of a family they are.

I will leave it until after the Ndw Year then start to cut back on what I do. She does not have a computer etc. so if she wants anything ordering I do it online (I am computer literate), and then she pays me in cash, I don't mind doing that but if there is something she does not like about what she has ordered, I am the one having to organise the return.

I will have to get a backbone and sort things out.

Thank you all again.

eazybee Thu 30-Nov-23 15:42:51

Your neighbour sounds the sort of person who uses everyone without compunction which is probably why her family avoid her. Can you obtain the telephone number of one of them in case there is a real emergency?
For the rest you simply have to say no, and refuse repeatedly as she obviously won't take no for an answer. Don't offer excuses as she will outwit you.
In time she will become more dependent and you simply cannot risk being at her beck and call. Start now.

Theexwife Thu 30-Nov-23 16:13:57

If she were a loving, giving person she would have more friends and a caring family. Maybe she used them the way she uses you.

I was in a similar position and had to cut the lady off completely even though I wouldn’t have minded a weekly outing but this was never enough.

You have to be firm about what you are prepared to do or cut her off completely.

GrannyGrunter Thu 30-Nov-23 17:16:38

Thank you both, I totally know what you mean, I would not mind one day a week with her but even then I am like her carer and bank as she is really tight with her money. She once told me that I had more money than her, how does she know I have more money than her, is it because I pay for everything.

I will do what you say, stop answering her calls and make excuses not to meet up. But when passing her house she is a curtain twitcher.

Germanshepherdsmum Thu 30-Nov-23 17:18:47

Become deaf and walk quickly!

Patsy70 Thu 30-Nov-23 17:19:17

She is not a friend, she is a hanger on and user. That is why she has been alienated by her own family. Her continued harassment can’t be good for you, it must be very stressful, as it is impacting on what you want to do and interfering with your day to day life. You really must tell her and the sooner the better, so you get your life back. 💐

V3ra Thu 30-Nov-23 17:31:09

From what you say about her family's behaviour when she was in hospital, she's potentially a victim of elder abuse and/or financial abuse.
It might sound drastic but I would seriously advise you to ring your social services adult care team and tell them what has been going on.
Don't soldier on trying to help her, or not, on your own.
Her situation is a bigger problem brewing and I think she needs professional support.