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I have a very good friend who is a few years older than myself, we've been friends for many years. She was hospitalized a few months ago, and is not bouncing back, she is very debilitated, and has hired help 3 days per week, but she cannot do very much for herself, other than shower, get dressed, go outside and drive someplace, she is very unsteady, and has trouble cooking because the pots/pans, etc. are too heavy. I have been going over once a week to cook for her. I am her emergency contact, she has medical alert, she has no one else. She has called me several times in the middle of the night, and I went over to help her with "whatever."


I volunteered to do the grocery shopping, errands, and take her to the doctors appointments, clipping her toenails, to make her life easier as a temporary measure, because if the roles were reversed, she would have done the same (for awhile). But now it has been SIX MONTHS and she is wanting to "get rid of the hired help" except for a housekeeper once a week. I know what she is thinking, that I will pick up the slack. I am a retired RN, but I do NOT want to continue to do ANY of these things. I feel trapped, resentful, especially since I know she HAS the money to pay for household help. She cannot run her household with a housekeeper for 3 hours per week, that's ridiculous.


I am going to tell her that I cannot continue to do these things, because it's been six months, and I figured that by now, she'd either get better, or make the appropriate arrangements. She refuses to discuss assisted living, is very stubborn, you get the idea. I want to stay friends with her, I feel the roles are changing, and I want to get back to being "just friends" with an OCCASIONAL favor.


Since I retired, because of "helping" my friend, I am not sleeping well, my stomach is upset, and I know I need to take care of myself and find a new focus and let her work it out. I don't want to be "on call" 24/7 any more. But, I feel guilty, and I know I shouldn't, but feel that she is taking advantage to save the almighty dollar. Any suggestions regarding what to say, exactly? I cannot let this go on ANY longer. I told her I was going out of town for a week, so that I could have some down time and not deal with this.



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Tell friend what you have said here. Tell her you value her friendship but you cannot continue the way you are. That you felt by now she would be on her feet. That you feel she needs those helpers and that it may be a good idea to look into some transport services for doctors appts etc. That being retired, you may not always be there for her. There are things you planned on doing before you get too old to do them. Believe me, I know where ur coming from. We started helping out my GFs Mom with transportation to Drs in DE because she was losing her eyesight. Then GFs husband had to return to work so DH volunteered to take her to her Drs. in DE. Then her daughter got sick. I stopped it when the oldest daughter returned home with health problems and we were asked to take her to appts. Yes, we were offered gas money. But, in one month 3 days a week we were taking this family somewhere. It was overwhelming and I now hate driving in DE. It stopped when I started babysitting my infant grandson. Then I had my Mom to care for. Yes, I felt guilty, especially for the Mom. I felt taken advantage of, not by the mother, but by the friend.

Your friends aides should be able to take her to appts. A foot doctor may come to her home. If she is not improving she has to find resources in the community. Its not fair to ask you to give up your life for her. And those nightly calls would stop if not an emergency. You are not sleeping because you are constantly waiting for the phone to ring. You know some people don't improve because they rely to much on people helping. Maybe she needs to do more for herself.

Take you time off and enjoy.
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I can relate to your situation. When you are a helping and kind hearted person, it can sometimes get out of hand. You are right to stop it, though. It's not fair to you and will ruin your friendship, since you are being treated unfairly.

I'm not sure if you work or not, but, regardless, it's not fair to you. Which takes me to my first question. If she is a really long time, close friend, would she be taking advantage of you in this way? I'd question if she is thinking clearly, AND, why call you several times in the middle of the night? The only time, I've had that happen is if the person is impaired in some way by a substance or has some other mental impairment, that scares them and keeps them awake at night. Does she have a sleep disorder?

Does she think that you want to do these tasks for money?

My cousin used to think it was no trouble for me to go to all kinds of lengths for her benefit without compensation. She'd ask me to buy her $50.00 worth of groceries, on my time and not pay me back. Or, call and ask me to give her money with no obligation to pay it back. Later, she was diagnosed with dementia. She just lost the ability to know what was reasonable. So, if that is the case with your friend, she may not be able to accept your NO. Of course, it's her responsibility to make other arrangements, once you tell her your position. I'd just be prepared for her to keep asking and I'd have a plan in place, if that happens.

I hope you are able to work things out. It's a shame to lose lifelong friends. They are so important to us. But, still, your feelings are important.
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She has wised up that she saves money by having you help her out. Don't be surprised if she pulls a "guilt trip" when you notify her you're done.
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You need to speak very honestly but kindly with her. She has the wrong impression of friendship and what it entails. Tell her you are going to be doing some volunteer work, which you are looking forward to, and your time will now be occupied by that work. You will, of course be available for an occasional visit, a cup of coffee, etc. but you are no longer able to be her caregiver. If she’d like, you will help her find an agency to send out caregivers for her. You are being taken advantage of by this lady. Be prepared that she may become angry and it may end your friendship, but if you truly want out, this is the only way. You can only be used if you let yourself be.
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