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Woman Called Out For Refusing To Continue To Help Elderly Neighbor She Suspects Has Dementia

Photo by Eduardo Barrios/Unsplash

Sometimes, no good deed goes unpunished.

You try to do the right thing and it becomes a mess.

We can’t help everyone, all of the time.

We’re only human.

And sometimes doing what is best is hard and unpopular.

Case in point…

Redditor Long-Cycle8059 wanted to discuss her story for some feedback. So naturally she came to visit the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit.

She asked:

“AITA for not helping my elderly neighbor?”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“So I (22 F[emale]) live in an apartment on the ground floor.”

“The entrance to my apartment is directly onto the street, and I have a small garden that shares a fence with my neighbour (92 F).”

“I moved in 4 years ago, and because my neighbor is older, I would run errands for her, go to the store and pick up her newspaper or take the trash out for her once a week.”

“The past few months though, her memory has got really bad, and I think she might have dementia.”

“So when I try to do the things I normally do, e.g. take the trash out, she screams at me to leave her alone and stop going onto her property.”

“My last interaction with her was a month ago, she was sitting outside and I asked if she needed anything from the store.”

“She had no idea who I was and shouted at me to go or she’d call the police (girl I’m Black, I don’t need that).”

“This morning though, one of my other neighbors (50’s I think, male), came up to me in the street and asked why I wouldn’t help her.”

“I told him that she doesn’t recognize me and I don’t want to upset her, also it’s not my responsibility, I was just trying to be helpful.”

“He said it wasn’t nice of me to leave her struggling.”

“And she goes without her newspaper because I no longer do it and she misses the trash collections.”

“I told him if he was so concerned he could do it but he said I started it, so I should keep it up.”

“AITA for stopping this?”

Redditors shared their thoughts on this matter and weighed some options to the question AITA?:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors declared our OP was NOT the A**hole.

It’s a tricky situation.

Let’s hear some thoughts…

“N.A.H. as pointed out to me a part that I glossed over, the neighbor was demanding OP take care of the lady without being willing to step up himself so he is TA.”


“Please contact whatever adult services exist in your area and/or see if you can reach her family.”

“She needs a welfare check and bigger intervention and help than you can provide alone.”  ~ MadoogsL

“There’s at least one AH here and it’s the neighbour who never roused himself to help his elderly neighbour and won’t now but gives OP grief.”

“You’re NTA OP but MadoogsL is right on about contacting adult protection services to help your neighbor now.”  ~ SalAqua

“NTA. If your neighbor has hit the point where she doesn’t recognize you and regards you as a threat, it’s probably time to stop.”

“This is something where her relatives should be notified, and she may need professional help.”

“It sounds like you aren’t a professional caregiver, and it ALSO sounds like your other neighbor is trying to get you to be one without pay.”

“Which you know, a guy telling someone else it’s their responsibility to help, without being willing to help themselves, is something, definitely.” ~ Beginning-Ice-1005

“NTA… If she has dementia, your presence could very well be upsetting to her. Is there anyone you can call to do a wellness check?”

“Tell your other neighbors to either mind their own business or learn to help out themselves.”  ~ RoyallyOakie

“NTA. If he’s so worried, he can indeed help her.”

“He’s trying to get ‘good person’ brownie points with out actually making the effort to help.”

“Can you find out if your neighbor has family you can call?”

“Sounds like she might need assisted living or a live in caretaker.”

“If she’s hostile towards you, there’s nothing you can do.”

“Talk to your landlord and see if they have any contact info.”  ~ Holmes221bBSt

“NTA. She doesn’t recognize you and is fearful of you, most likely she has memory issues or more.”

“I’d suggest you let the landlord know, they may have a contact for her family.”

“If there is something like elder care or social services you can let them know that she seems to need assistance.”

“And you were helping but now she no longer remembers who you are and is fearful of you.”

“If none of these work you can try a non emergency police line for resources.”  ~ unionmom4

“NTA. You hit the nail on the head.”

“You did a wonderful thing helping her out for a long time until it no longer was safe for you to do so.”

“Congratulations, Neighbor Dude, it’s your turn to be a decent human being.”

“That being said — if your neighbor’s cognitive skills have declined that much, she’s probably a risk to herself.”

“Do you know if she has anyone coming to look after her?”

“Family, a caretaker?”

“She might need some outside help that’s beyond care you can give.”  ~ BogwitchOfTheBog

“NTA – I took care of both of my elderly parents and it’s a full time job.”

“What makes it worse is that my mother got dementia.”

“Its hard to take care of someone with dementia but the lady definitely needs help.”

“I would enquire if there is someone to help her.”

“Just saying this because my mother would always forget and leave the stove on then walk away.”

“You could have a fire or something that could directly affect you.”  ~ ChewyRib

“NTA. She’s not your responsibility.”

“It would be much worse for her for you to force your help on her and contribute to her illness than to do nothing at all.”

“It’s an unfortunate situation, but nothing you’re responsible for.”

“The nosy neighbor needs to butt TF out.”  ~ MuskyLion

“NTA. Kudos to you helping her previously.”

“But now you are causing her distress and discomfort by attempting to engage when she does not know you.”

“You are watching when you see her, but there is nothing else you can do. You are not her caregiver.”

“The comments about adult protective service may be of benefit if there are concerns for her health and safety.”

“Which there absolutely are if it is dementia.”

“Your other neighbour is concerned for her, but not willing to step into that role.”

“It’s easier to point at you and say ‘why aren’t you keeping it up!.'”

“Dementia effects everyone differently, but in later stages the individual can become aggressive.”

“It sounds like your neighbour is reaching this.”

“She is yelling and using verbal abuse.”

“There may be delusions, increased agitation and can be even more distressing by continually engaging when she does not want you to.”

“You were kind to help, but do not feel bad for withdrawing your assistance.”

“That is absolutely not your role or responsibility – and at this stage, she needs the assistance and support of a professional.”  ~ Jaylloyd24

“Wow NTA.”

“And I’m actually so sorry for what you’ve likely experienced in your life to have you questioning if you are here.”

“This neighbor’s opinions mean f**kall and if he thinks she should be taken care of more he should do it himself or contact A[dult] P[rotection] S[ervices].”

“You don’t owe anyone anything, least of all an explanation to this strange jacka**.”  ~ Youcannotbeforreal2

“NTA. You can’t help someone who is refusing your help.”

“The best thing to do is call Adult Protective Services and explain the situation with the change in your neighbor’s behavior.”

“They can do a home check and evaluation to determine if she safe living alone.”  ~ Janetaz18

“NTA. OP, if you’re in the US, you can call Adult Protective Services (google your city + Adult Protective Services) and report that there is a neglected elderly woman.”

“If you cannot easily find APS, call the non-emergency line for your local police station and request a welfare check of your elderly neighbor.”

“They will report to the appropriate agency.”

“You are a kind young woman with a great heart, but you really have done your best.”

“It’s not your responsibility to literally take care of someone if you do not wish to do so OR take that kind of liability.”

“But please do contact APS or the Police as soon as you are able to.”  ~ RadioAktivitat87

“NTA. Just because you did something kind once it doesn’t mean you have to do that for the rest of your life.”

“Don’t pay mind to this idiot.”

“If you do want to help her tho, might be a good idea to choose one day when you are free, patiently gain her trust.”

“Act like you would if she is seeing you for the first time.”

“And find out if she has any relatives that are alive and can take care of her.”  ~ MammothOlive2

Stay the course OP.

Reddit has your back.

As sad as it is, we have to put ourselves first sometimes.

It can often be the healthiest choice for everybody.