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Moved to Florida to retire after 14 years of caregiving my two parents in our home, while we raised our youngest child. Moved to a 55+ community. Loved it the first couple of years. Now my husband has older aunts and uncles who live near us and are asking us to help with their care. It started out please just help us put our garbage out to the curb once a week. We felt we could help with that. Then one became ill spend 3 weeks in a hospital and now is moved to a rehab center. (we don't think he will get out --92 years old) But spouse wants us to drive her every day to hospital and then nursing home and back so she can visit. (She claims she can drive but we have never seen her, she has lupus and is very unstable on her feet).


We moved to Florida to have a break and enjoy our retirement. It's not happening. We feel guilty, we want to help but not on an ongoing basis. Our lives have been so disrupted. We aren't young anymore ourselves and are tired out after helping others. We thought of helping two times a week, but then even that thought leaves us feeling frustrated and resentful.


That is just one of 3 people who are putting demands on our time. The other is no relation at all but wants us to drive her to church, with us every week. This leads to any church activity we attend they want a free ride. We give her the front seat and my husband puts her wheel chair in car ( I can do it but it is hard for me). I end up sitting in the back seat with no seat belt or have to drive. I don't like either option.


Then we have the 3rd aunt who lives in our condo building and doesn't over use us, just asks for help when needing a ride to the hospital. She is handy and always offers to pay us. (we don't take it) She lives so close it is no trouble to help her with garbage, car, etc. We tend to stop by on a regular basis to check in or she won't ask for help.


I think it is the ongoing commitment we don't want to make. Helping now and then, here and there is no problem. But we don't like being tied down to helping some and them counting on us to take them regularly. How and what kind of boundaries are reasonable to set?

It is so hard when someone takes advantage of another person, e.g. the rides to church, which then become routine. I used to volunteer to help anyone, but then I started being used --- and by younger people than myself. You'll have to set limits, else these relatives with want your time, sad to say. Just say no.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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Doesn’t it make us afraid to offer to do anything for others? You know, give an inch, they take a mile.

But if someone asks for a favor then we have the burden of saying no. Or should I not see it as burden. Should I see it as being responsible. We have to look out for ourselves. Put our oxygen mask on first.
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Both when I lived in Florida and here in Ohio they have SCAT busses. Like a taxie but I'm pretty sure it's much cheaper.
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I think with the daily drive to help aunt visit you need to drop that down to one day a week....preferably the day the garbage can needs to go out. Just flat out tell her that every day of the week is too much. You can't do the things you want to do. She may get all offended and try and guilt you by calling herself a burden. Don't fall for it. Just let her know what you can do and if she isn't happy with that you do nothing.

Rides to church. I agree, don't cater to that person. They ride in back and I think that you can only manage that once a month. Tell them you have plans immediately following service and they need to make other arrangements.

For the aunt that lives in your building. So far she doesn't seem to be taking advantage of you so continuing occasional help as long as you are ok with it.

Start planning day trips so you are unavailable to help others with their chores. Let them figure it out on their own. Come down with a cold (both of you) and see how that manage on their own.
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Reply to lkdrymom
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If TropicalGrandma's neighbors can ask her for help with the garbage cans and a ride to church or to the nursing home, then those neighbors can solve their own problems. As soon as TropicalGrandma gets reputation as the community's problem solver, she will never get another moment's peace.

TropicalGrandma - you sound fed-up. You also have one actual relative living in your building whom you help out i.e. your 3rd aunt. Isn't that enough??
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Reply to NYDaughterInLaw
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Yeah, the trashcans. They don't have neighbors that can help them? Or those that have wheels or in a cart with wheels.

My problem with people I have helped they don't make it convenient. I have a bridge between me and Del. Never did the people we drove to DE change their doctors to NJ. Neither did Mom and daughter coordinate their doctor appts so we could take them both to the same place at the same time. Like it was a complex of buildings. Mom was going to one building the daughter to another. I did suggest it.
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jacobsonbob Mar 13, 2019
...plus there are tolls to be paid in making the trips across the bridge; do the others offer to pay them?
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I wouldn't necessarily mention Uber or Lyft. A lot of seniors don't have smart phones. My husband and his brother are two that I know about off hand. I would mention a Taxi, senior bus, or something like that. When my mother was alive, I called the local taxi company, found out how much it would cost to take mom to the store. I gave her 2 envelopes one for each way. Each envelope had enough money for the trip and a tip. The taxi company's phone number was on the front of the envelope. It didn't work, but it was worth a try. LOL. It might work for someone. A lot of assisted livings and condos have buses for their clients.

As for the garbage to the curb. A lot of cities have a program where the garbage man will go to the back and get the can. In our city you call the Trash people and they come out, paint an orange diamond on the curb. That lets the trash guy know that handicapped people live there and they go get the cans and replace them.
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NeedHelpWithMom Mar 13, 2019
My mom at 93 has a smart phone.
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I think that a lot of seniors do NOT understand that it's not other people's duty to help them out. That's why, imo, when you need consistent, repeated assistance with certain things, you should either pay a professional for it or move somewhere that provides the service.

My parents just can't figure out why it's an issue for their adult children to take their time when they are off work to come to our parents house to do certain tasks. Daddy is handy, but, is losing the ability to do certain things. They seem to be insulted that the adult children don't rush to their aid for everything. I don't think they will ever get it.
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lkdrymom Mar 13, 2019
You are so right. The worst is when they think they are doing YOU the favor by letting you do things for them.

My father’s constant runs to every doctor under the sun got to be too much and I had to cut it off completely. He would try every trick in the book to get me to be his transportation. The thing is he was convinced it was some sort of treat FOR ME to take him to the doctor. I didn’t know how to tell him I was done with wasting my time sitting in waiting rooms.
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You never mentioned actually talking to people about what you see as an overdependence on your kindnesses. Perhaps they assume that you are ok with it as long as you don't mention a problem. There's no substitute for communication in these circumstances.
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Reply to 7again
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Just curious, "ride to the hospital, then to rehab and back to visit" Her husband is in rehab right? Why this go around then?

If this looks like its going to be permanent, you may want to give the Aunt a heads up that you will not be doing this on a continuous basis. You know like "Aunt B, you know if its found that Uncle B can't return home, we cannot continue taking you to see him on a daily basis. Short term we really don't mind but long term we just can't do. Now we r retired, we want to be able to do stuff we never were able to do" Then you can give her options.
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When you find yourself being expected of...OMG been there as a "friend" enough times beyond normal. The past 12 years of my life, I have been connected with many friend-clients outside of my personal family. The disabled person knows manipulation tactics and will use them. So don't misunderstand that I am just easily manipulated. I have realized after many years of assisting to others in need that they will only be constantly looking for "better people" to help create a team of coverage for the remainder of their lives. Dependable & responsible people are difficult to find and the pay is very minimal compared to the amount of hours work involved. Balancing time off is almost laughable once you are committed to assisting one time. So please don't start if you cannot stay involved. As you will find it extremely difficult to say No or even find a replacement that fits to that relatives needs. Just know in advance from someone who has "become a caregiver" that never intended to. Word gets around quickly and I used to have 3 or 4 clients calling me everyday until i learned to say No I cannot be available anymore.

The one gray area is when I have been talked into doing medical things or to spend my own time & money on the client. No medical training or certification means just that. Yet I have self taught my way through on many occasions to some who were released home too soon with staples in their scalp or with broken hips. This should never happen but in a remote county it often DOES happen. I am proud of my ability to be able to learn quickly yet it becomes a new responsibility the 1st time one agrees to try a bandage change. Nurses will gladly show you at the hospital bed how to achieve some skills because they need to get that patient home ASAP. If you are the responsible party to be available to the patient, then consider you have just signed up to this persons management & follow-up care.

I've done this alone for so long now that I have accepted this work as permanent. I have double shifted for those who left assisted living to get into an apartment only to discover they were not so independent after all. Plus your personal home and errands suffer from neglect. Many times, newly hired caregivers will not work out or they just never show up because they changed their mind. It can take years to find the right one. Caregiving comes from the deepest part of your morals and not always from a desire to have a job. I was married when I was asked if I could help another caregiver who was having difficulty meeting the demands of a client. Before long, my husband was helping too with remodeling & repairs since construction was his specialty. So there it is, a choice to stay and work for someone or donate time. I would never just stop answering my phone.

It takes about a team of 3 to satisfy one clients needs fairly for all the details involved. I have worked 365 days a year for the past 5 years. No stopping this high demand work anytime soon. That is where balancing comes into the schedule. All caregivers have varying likes or dislikes so you can interview them around what you need to fulfill to the proposed schedule of your needs. Since you need time off from so much responsibility. Be honest to your life balance and what you do not need to be involved with. Your sanity is more important and nobody will appreciate you as soon as you bring stress to work. I do have a favorite job detail & that is nutrition, I enjoy cooking & shopping. Seems to be a lost art.

Most of my clients have been home bound so I try to teach other caregivers kitchen skills but most don't even cook for themselves. So finding the right person to replace me has never been easy. It is also very surprising to see how little help adult children ever offer their parent even though they live close. I'm actually shocked at how many years go by without their phone calls or attempts to check on them happens. That is the truth.
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Reply to DoWright
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Another way to handle these requests may be to offer to call someone else for help:
"I'm happy to call around to see if I can find a home health care aide that help you take the trash out every week. Or do you just need cans with wheels?"
"I'm happy to call a Taxi for you to take you to church every week."
etc.
Help can be offered in many ways. You don't have to be the person offering the service.
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Hi. Bless you for being a caring person. Two things I’ve learned about boundaries. One, you can’t give from an empty cup. When you are on a plane, the flight attendants instruct you to put on your own oxygen mask before helping someone else. I have learned the hard way that this is good advice in life too. And second, sometimes we just have to make a commitment that certain time belongs to us; some for chores, but equally important, some for fun or relaxation. Mark it on your calendar if need be. Then when you get a request your response can honestly be, “I’m sorry. I have another commitment that day/time.” Wishing you peace aand strength to be as good to yourself as you are to everyone else.
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Reply to MelissaPA2AZ
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There are some great suggestions here, but, to me, part of the stress on my mind and aggravation would be having things hanging in the air. Like, if you tell people you are busy, have plans, etc. then they will still have it in their mind that you WILL be available, going their way and able to do it at a later time. I'd prefer that NO ONE have expectations. Most people can't accept help once and let it go. You become an option that they will keep coming back to. They think you are happy to help them. Some people just don't get it. My grandparents called it, riding a free horse to death.

The sad thing is that we as nice and helping people don't have the backbone to say no. It's just not in us, but, I'd come up with an excuse to use with all of them and just bite the bullet and do it. you may have to repeat it a couple of times, but, it's only right. You and DH deserve your own time to enjoy your own retirement. Having to be caretaker for others, when you didn't sign up for it, is just unfair and unacceptable, imo. Part of the joy of retirement is to be totally free and have NO constraints on your time or attention.

I would consider saying, we are no longer transporting. It's an insurance thing. Or, we've made some decisions and we are no longer doing _______. I do have a number you might call to get that service though. It sounds cold, I know, but, it's like I ask my mom sometimes, when she's worrying herself to death over hurting someone's feelings. I'd ask, Who should feel bad in this situation? Me or them? If someone is going to feel bad, it shouldn't be me, because, I have done nothing to feel bad about.
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Reply to Sunnygirl1
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Stop answering the phone and let it go to voicemail. If it's important, the person will leave a message. If not, they won't. Screening your calls will put a buffer zone between you and the request for assistance.

Stop explaining yourself! Learn to say something like "No we cannot do XYZ" and "No we cannot take you with us to church". If you do feel the need to explain yourself, throw out an innocuous "We have plans" or "We aren't heading in that direction today".

Learn to manage expectations. If you do feel that you want to give someone a ride, you are under no obligation to make it a round trip! Let them figure out the return trip for themselves.

Recognize that any person who asks you for an explanation if you cannot accommodate their request is being rude.

Change your routine and start enjoying the retirement you moved to Florida to have. Get busy being busy! Do not let anyone steer you away from whatever plans you and your husband have made.

Read up about irrational guilt. Irrational guilt is about rules that others try to impose upon us but to which we ourselves do not subscribe. Often it's about over-responsibility and feeling responsible for another person's happiness.
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JoAnn29 Mar 13, 2019
I agree, you are retired for a reason. To do what you want when you want.

By the way, same thing happens when your a stay at home Mom and your SIL works. My Aunt was always asking Mom to do something for her because Mom didn't work.
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Give up ALL transportation duties, never drive people. Then help the ones you want when you want. Say: We no longer drive anyone-we come and go at differing times now.

The reason I say this is, transportation is an area that has a lot of assists and affordable options for seniors, so you can refer them out to 1) senior rides/bus 2)Uber/Lyft. 3) other neighbors, 4) other church friends, or 5) medical transportation vans.
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Reply to Sendhelp
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Many communities have free bus transportation for seniors and or disabled. Look into that and see if you can help arrange that for the one aunt.
Time to get out of the back seat and let the "hitchhiker" take the back seat. This may prompt a...I can get a ride from "Betty" or someone else.
Start taking the money for a car ride, the "hitchhiker" you can tell them that the ride will be $5.00, again they may decide that there is someone else that can drive them. And again they may also be able to get transportation free or low cost. And the drive to church, you can always say you are not going home afterwards so you will not be able to give a ride this week. (then go out to breakfast so it is not really a "fib")

the more you "help" the more it will be expected.
Part of the problem is "a little help" goes from a little favor to an expectation.
You can say no.
People hate to say no. You feel mean if you say no. But I bet you said no to your kids when they were growing up.
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JoAnn29 Mar 13, 2019
Aptly put. This why I no longer volunteer. Which is what my DH did with my GFs family. Puts you in the position to be taken advantage of. If they ask, very different.
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No. Is a complete sentence.

You don't have to justify or explain why you're not willing to help. That is a good 1st boundary. If you are willing and able say yes, if not, say no.

If you think they can't manage another solution give them a list of ideas with phone numbers.

Put neighbor in the back seat, this may be enough for her to decide she will find a different solution. I am sure you are a huge blessing for her.

We teach people how to treat us, so start now re-teaching them how you desire to be treated.
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NeedHelpWithMom Mar 13, 2019
ITRL,

You’re right. Why do we feel we have to explain? Well. I have had people ask for a reason after saying no. They didn’t like my answer though so they shouldn’t have asked. I simply said, I don’t want to and to ask someone else.
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Do any of them live where there is transportation available? Does your Office of Aging have a bus.

Be honest, tell the spouse you are not able to take her everyday. Then tell her what days you are willing to do. Explain that you are retired and need to be able to do things while you can. Or, start planning day trips and when she asks to go, tell her sorry we will be away for the day. The Church lady, since you are already going, then hard to get out of it. But, don't attend Church just to take her.

I have been there. I know its hard to say no when you are really not doing anything but...you have a right not to be doing anything. With my Mom I gave her one day a week to shop and run errands. She was only 5 min away so I went right by Walgreens so would pick up her prescriptions.
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NeedHelpWithMom Mar 12, 2019
JoAnn,

Did your mom ever argue about just one day? So many parents are so demanding. They argue just to keep in practice!
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Just say "no" - that doesn't work for us today. This is not your problem to solve. There are UBER drivers, GOGOGRANDMA drivers, etc. You need to learn to say NO.
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