I've seen frequent posts here from very kind, helpful people who sincerely want to help the elderly neighbor "who doesn't seem to have any visitors and they just need a little help."

This is how things usually play out.

(harmless requests that any nice person would gladly do)

1. Do you mind coming inside and changing a couple of light bulbs that have burned out? And can you reach under the sink and restart the disposal?
2. Do you mind picking up some soup and bread for me the next time you go shopping?

(Quickly escalates into)

3. Do you mind picking up (25 items) for me the next time you go shopping and will you swing by the pharmacy and get my meds for me?
4. Will you take me with you to the store? I need to get out and get groceries. (this turns into a 3-4 hour trip as every can of soup is held and evaluated so they can save a grand total of 50 cents on the grocery bill).
5. Will you carry my groceries into the house and put them away for me? (sure)
6. Will you separate my pills into the days of the week container for me? (Refuses to let the pharmacy do that fearful it might cost a little more).
7. Will you heat me up some soup and make me a sandwich while you are here? I'm so tired.
8. While you are here, will you put those dishes into the dishwasher for me? I can't hardly bend over.

(In the blink of an eye it turns into ALL of the above PLUS)

9. The pharmacy just called. Will you run back up there and pick up my meds? Won't take long.
10. Would you mind JUST swishing the brush around in the toilet and spraying some of that grout cleaner in the shower and JUST rinsing it out for me while you are here? (you go into the bathroom and it looks like a crime scene, takes hours to adequately clean up the pee and poop)
10. Do you mind doing some sweeping and mopping too? I just can't afford a cleaning lady right now. (much later, you find out there is plenty of money for a cleaning lady)
11. I forgot to get some bread and soup and milk. Will you run back to the store and get me some? (after you just spent hours with her in the store, and you ran back to pick up the meds)

(and then, expectation of ALL the above on a daily basis, PLUS the following)

12. I'm tired of eating soup and sandwiches and frozen meals. Could you JUST come over and cook something for me?
13. Can you JUST come over and help me get in and out of the shower and wait in the house while I shower, in case I fall?
14. Will you wash my back while you are here? I cannot get to it.
15. Will you wash and roll my hair while you are here? Won't take long.
16. Can you come over several times today and help me get on and off the toilet?
17. Will you take me to 'a couple' of my doctors' appointments next?
Turns out there is one every single day and that task takes hours each time.
18. (11:00 p.m. phone call) Can you come fix my remote?
19. Will you help me change my Depends?

I know this post sounds bitter on my part, but I just want to warn about this as I just went through this with someone (and she was not right next door). It consumed my life and stressed me out. Here's the kicker - she had grandchildren and a son who all refused to help. She also had money to pay for a cleaning lady and a sitter/helper, but wanted to save her money.

I know many others who have ended up doing everything for the person who "just needed a 'little' help" and thinks she is "vibrant, independent, and does not yet need assisted living."

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Daughterof1930, I agree with your observation. In my situation (and this happens with a lot of stories like this), the person REFUSED to spend her money and go to assisted living, which she so badly needed. She kept insisting she was able to take care of herself, just needed a 'little help.' Well, we see what 'a little help' involved. And another big issue, she was sitting on money she wanted to leave to her grandkids instead of spending it on her care. She was very lonely in her house and when she finally moved to assisted living, it was the best thing for her. She made friends and had company for all her meals.

When I was newly married we had an elderly (upper 80’s) neighbor near us in our apartment complex. She was a joy and taught me a lot. We did a few small things around her apartment and I took her grocery shopping sometimes. The main thing she desired was company, years later I saw the crushing loneliness my dad experienced and grew to appreciate knowing about the time in life when it happens most. I can easily see how the small helps can spiral, but I also see the benefits of taking the time to ease a person’s isolation and learn from them

Jhalldenton, your comment was hilarious.

Clarification, a granddaughter who lived a mile away was the recipient of the phone calls for the midnight remote repair, back washing and the changing of the Depends. She was also called in the middle of the night to come over and give an enema! The phone calls are always late at night.

Oh but, "I'm still independent! I take care of myself!"

i must say my mother’s neighbor was a God send. Only called on them in emergency. Like, when my mother chose to go out to airbase mid afternoon, grocery shopping , etc... diabetic... I had the phone set up to find my friends, I could track her... it is dark now and she hasn’t left the base... they were so kind to have made sure she got in the house safely...

but in your post, people need to set their limits and decline.....

Could you mow my lawn for free....... Backyard looks like a swamp/jungle
Could you fix my computer...... Needs 15 updates and takes 3 hours to get the first one even loaded because they are on DSL.
Could you look at my tires...... 4 Bald racing flats instead of any tread. Cost of replacing tires 300-400$$$$
Could you look at my grandfather clock? Manual burned up in WWII but aren't you good with clocks? You wear a watch.
Do you remember when you helped me put together that bird feeder? my Friend ________ just bought some furniture could you put it together? They bought a queen sized bed and 4 chairs.

Why are you saying no?????? Don't you have parents or grandparents??????

Why are you crying???????
BTW I picked up some fruit for you cause you look like you have Scurvy.....

Very accurate! Be warned. She knows She knows.

Or the neighbor with a pretext: "Do you need any help?" "I can do your laundry"
(Cannot even do laundry, leaves halfway through).

Lesson: Do not hire your neighbors.

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