Elderly neighbor giving me major grief. Any advice? - AgingCare.com

Elderly neighbor giving me major grief. Any advice?

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My mother is in a nursing home in another state. I am on the phone with her doctors, nurses etc constantly making sure she is getting good care. I have a brother that lives in the same town that does absolutely nothing to help her and asks her for money when he does visit. I call or visit her as often as possible and take are of all her legal needs, spending my own money.. My mother is finally seeing the effort I put into this and is finally thankful. I have an older sister that never calls and an older brother that does nothing but his wife has been very helpful, so in reality the entire care falls on my shoulders.. I'm at peace with this and will enjoy my mother until the end. I just gave her a huge 90th birthday party and she was so grateful..
Now the problem is my neighbor. She is an elderly woman going on 84. When she first moved in I helped her with everything she needed, fix her hair, take her to the doctors, listen to her endless stories that went on and on. She has a grown son living with her that works all day.. He is almost 60, never has been married and just goes to work and Church. I'm positive he does nothing when he gets home. My neighbor asks my husband and me to do things for her because 'her son is too busy studying his Bible'. My husband and I both work full time. I work from my home. I am also a crisis minister and have a passion for helping others. My neighbor drives me bat ass crazy....Calling my home constantly or when I go outside wanting to talk constantly, I can't take my trash out or work in the front yard without her coming out and demanding I speak with her. She is not that interesting and bores me to tears. If she see's my light on in my office she will call early in the morning and demand I give her attention. I work on my computer and she will say 'get off that computer'. She has to know what I do all day and where I go and is upset that I did not check in with her while I was out of town. My spirit hurts because I am a compassionate giving person but this woman is driving me insane to the point I want to move. I have told her I can't talk with her everyday, how can I make this madness stop without being ugly. It has given me much grief.

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Step back and analyze the situation. This woman has become manipulative, demanding, invasive and obnoxious. But she's also a lousy mother and an enabler in that she allows her deadbeat son to avoid contributing to her welfare.

Your statement that:
"I work on my computer and she will say 'get off that computer'. She has to know what I do all day and where I go and is upset that I did not check in with her while I was out of town."

...makes my angry that she is so aggressive but that you've not put her in her place. Why would anyone presume to assume such control over someone's else's life?

Ministry and compassion notwithstanding, this woman needs to be told that you don't respond to her and that what you do on a daily basis is your concern, not hers.

Seems to me the son manipulates her into tolerating his being a loaf of laziness and she then manipulates you.

If you're uncomfortable standing up to bullies, tell her nicely that your own responsibilities have become so much that you won't be able to help her any more. PERIOD. If you're uncomfortable telling her this in person, send her a nice little card with pretty flowers but make it clear you're not her employee.

Don't take her phone calls, ignore her when she comes running after you when you're outside.

You might also suggest that with all the time she has on her hands she find some nice charitable work to do. Even at 84 there are things she can do. Finding some could actually keep her busy.

She'll keep doing this as long as she has someone to exploit and can get away with it.

It sounds like you're a caring person so I suspect this will be hard for you, but it has to be done. Good luck.
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You fall back on your crisis ministry training, which tells you where to draw the boundaries and how to get them to move on. We pick people up when they are down, but they must learn to walk on their own. To do more is to enable helplessness and not cure it.
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Stop having her over for dinner, that erased a boundary. Stop taking her to appointments, another boundary. One by one you redraw the boundaries until you put them back where they need to be, where all your other crises would be managed. You have such a big heart, I hope you can do this.
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Your life and mother is first. Your neighbor's son needs to get off his Bible-reading butt to help and HONOR his mother as the Bible teaches.
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Update. I have not answered my phone or the door when my noisy neighbor has tried to make contact. I have not turned on my office light so she has no idea that I'm home. I have added new curtains so she can't tell all that is going on. I noticed my noisy neighbor had her daughter and son in law over. I was so glad to see her daughter visiting, but she only stays for one day.. I have stopped working in my front yard to avoid her and spend that extra time working in the side and back yards. I will work in my front yard when more time goes by. Yesterday was the first day in a LONG time that she did not try to call. I felt my peace and privacy returning and I started feeling that deep down calm feeling. Thank you all for the suggestions.
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Your comment that this woman has sucked your soul dry reminded me of a characterization frequently used for that type of person: energy vampire.

Pam makes a very good point, probably better than my "stop it all now" point. If you reclaim your boundaries one by one, it'll be easier on you and you won't feel so bad cutting her off eventually. She might even get the message before then.

In terms of being respectful, she hasn't shown you that courtesy but it speaks well of your character that you're trying to do so. Still, sometimes people don't respond without some strong blunt words and action.

You revealed a lot about your family; from what I know, children of alcoholics sometimes grow up more meek, not knowing where the boundaries are because of the uncertainties of alcoholic behavior. It can be difficult to establish those boundaries as well.

Find your voice with this woman gradually if you have to, but remember it's there.

Good luck, and don't give up.
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Black out curtains or a liner for windows on "her" side of your home are very inexpensive.
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After talking to my neighbors son, I was able to go outside in my front yard without being harassed by my neighbor. She did not call all day. If she can go longer it would be great. There was a lot to think about after I had more time reading all your comments. She really may not know there was a problem. Many times I felt she was not being authentic with me and it wears me out to have to read between the lines constantly.. Now back to my regular life.
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I'll pass along one other thing I learned on another support board: Don't JADE (justify, argue, defend, explain). This is one of my weaknesses, and you seem so good-hearted, it may help you too. When I can't or don't want to do something, I feel that I have to offer all sorts of 'reasons' or explanations why. Like I need to explain WHY I can't do something. I am learning that users like your neighbors are really good and punching through those explanations. So don't give them any. Just say, "No, I can't do that." Period. It will feel SO awkward at first, but I am working hard at doing this. I don't owe anyone any explanations for WHY I do or don't do things, and you don't either. So, short and sweet, and just leave the silence lay there. My guess is that they'll soon find someone else to use once your usefulness dries up.
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This has gone on way too long. If they really are obsessed stalkers they have repeatedly made it clear that ANY contact will be taken as their cue to resume stalking you again. Read up on the Amish custom of shunning. It seems cruel, but it is a way of providing physical care if someone is in need but communicating effecetively that the relationship has been shattered by their behavior. Praying to God that your husband would not accept a piece of pie does not seem like the kind of prayer that would get answered "sure no problem, I will take away your husband's free will and obviate any need for YOU to be uncomfortably assertive..." I know it is pretty nervy to tell anyone else what to pray or not pray for, I'm just saying this is my experience when I have done those kinds of prayers...rather startling to get a resounding "NO" but very educational, spirtually speaking.

1. Tell your husband you want to move because you can't take any more. Start packing a few boxes of knicknacks. Maybe you really don't wan't to and maybe you can't, but make the message clear that this has to stop and it is not just cute or mildly annoying. Maybe you should move if none of the options below are do-able or acceptable to you!

2. Post your house and yard No Trespassing.

3. Take out a restraining order. Give your neighbors a copy of it.

4. Setting limits is not "rude." Write that sentence one hundred times in your very best handwriting or typed in every different font on your computer and post it where you most need to see it.

5. Practice saying "We are not on speaking terms, because you call me too often, disrupt my sleep, and ask too much of me, and I need you to leave me alone now. If you do not leave I will call the police." Document the calls so you have evidence of harassment when you do call the police, because you will undoubtedly have to. Otherwise, it'll be, "why are you calling the police on a little old lady who wants to bring you a piece of pie?"

The alternative is to go ALL the way back to square one and decide that this annoying neighbor deserves a place in your home and your heart, and you will engage fully with her, and maybe try a behavior modification program where every annoying thing she says or does is ignored and only postive upbeat things are accepted; but you will keep her embedded in your life for as long as she lives.

Decide which alternative is correct - in prayer, in consultation with your husband, your pastor, anyone else you can trust, and STOP trying to pursue an ambigous course that is something in between. They are absolutely feeding off of your ambiguity. The older woman in particular is not going to be able to grasp any concept of a middle ground of brief civil contact and nothing more. Boundaries are beyond her grasp. You have probably looked down on people or judged them to be cold and selfish who have had to set these kinds of limits, but now you understand.
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