How would you set boundaries in this situation?


**I have been blessed with a hubby who can be very helpful. So of course when our elderly and disabled neighbors needed a hand he was right there.

It started out small… stuff like helping the man get his wife (who is partially paralyzed from a stroke) into their van after he had heart surgery. No big deal…glad to help.

But just recently things have changed big time. It started last weekend when the neighbor’s adult son (who had been helping as much as he could between his job and wife/child) had to be out of town. The neighbor’s mentally handicapped daughter (adult) came over and told my hubby that her dad needed his help. (the dad just recently had heart surgery, is battling uncontrolled diabetes and also had a mental breakdown).

So he goes over and apparently they had been waiting for 4 hours for someone to come help his wife to the bathroom and she couldn’t wait anymore. So my hubby helped. It was very awkward for him but they had no one else… then he ended up having to help the man too. Personally I would have trouble helping my own parents in that situation, never mind neighbors that we only knew very superficially before all of this.

Since then hubby has been called on to do all kinds of things from checking out a malfunctioning wheelchair to tucking them in for the night. Since we realize that this is beyond what we should be expected to do (and since hubby is not a trained nurse really *shouldn’t ***be doing) we took steps to get them some help. Hubby talked to the son, located a seniors in home care business and was also informed that the couples adult daughter who is recently divorced will soon be moving in with them… but we don’t know when.

The handicapped daughter has shown up at our home multiple times asking for help…once when we were already in bed. It has become so bad that we had to disconnect our doorbell. We keep telling them that they have to give us a call and if we can we’ll help. But it is getting ridiculous. No sooner than hubby’s car pulls up the drive the daughter is coming over and asking him for help. Poor Lily balled her eyes out yesterday because she missed her daddy and as soon as he came home he was called to the neighbor’s.

Now I don’t mind hubby helping…but I think we need to set some sort of boundaries… but we really don’t know how.:o What would you do? What would you consider appropriate?


Oh Malia… what a tough situation. You guys really are “serving your neighbor”, but you’re right, they are obviously in need of more help than they’re getting.

This was going to be my first piece of advice… but sounds like you’ve already started looking into that.
I would try to get the son more involved in making some decisions on how to properly care for them. Start contacting him each and every time they are in need of your assistance. Maybe he isn’t fully aware of their neediness…
Bringing the severity of the situation to light for him is going to be your only hope, I think. The son really needs to step up (regardless of his busy schedule) and take care of his parents.
I mean, if your neighbor can’t even make it to the bathroom unassisted, then they may need more than just daytime in-home care… possibly nursing-home level assistance.

Good luck… what a difficult situation. Continue serving them, but help speed the situation along by getting the other family members MORE involved if possible.


I think that I would just tell them that they need to stop asking. Clearly they didn’t need help prior, that they were either able to handle these situations on their own or that they had other support sources. This has spiraled out of control pretty quickly and is alarming. Is there some sort of public mental health agency that could give a hand in all of this? That it reached this point so quickly is cause for concern.


**The husband was taking care of everything (even with his heart surgery) up until the mental breakdown which happened very recently. Now he can’t do what he used to and the family is a period of adjustment I guess.

Our next step is to call the family’s “case worker” who is handling their health care needs…

it has just become too much too quickly. It is heavily interfering with our family life now and since we are next door neighbors it’s not like we can just pretend to not be home:shrug:

Hubby never did get the son’s phone number (which I did ask him to do) but I think he will next time he sees him… hopefully that is soon.


Wow… How about calling 311, or is it 211, and starting there… asking what kinds of services the city or the province has to help a family in this situation? I think that is what I would do. It is practically a crisis. Something a professional may need to get involved with - like a social worker or specialised care giver.

Oh I just saw now that you are aware that the family has a case worker. That is good. Hopefully you can get in touch with them and things can sort out. Wish I had more advice.


Not only call the case worker for the seniors, but for the handicapped adult daughter. She is the one doing most of the “needing”. Her brother should be her guardian by now, if she can’t function. Obviously, it is too much for the poor woman. In any event, her brother should be the one told as well, next time he comes by, that his sister can’t handle the situation.

You might want to grab the son next time he comes by, if DH is not home. I would also check to see if the son had a listed phone number.


**After being called for the zillionth time to come over and “fix” the tv (something about the surround sound:shrug:) as soon as hubby got home from work he got right on the phone and set up an appt with the home care agency and the lady came right over. So as soon as she can get someone on the job (1 day to two week wait) they will be doing a one month trial to see how it works out.

The son is next on our list…

as for the handicapped daughter, I know she is in various programs etc because the DATS bus comes for her on a regular basis… hopefully the divirced sister (who is a nurse as well) will move here soon…she lived in Portugal.


The others have given good advice, I just wanted to give kudos to your husband!


Might suggest that the next time you or your husband encounters a request for help where the person is “stuck” in a physical predicament, call the fire department or EMT and possibly the police for assistance. And when they arrive, make them aware of the situation. I think government social services needs to be more aware of the current situation, and some input from emergency personnel may do the trick.

And I second that kudos to your husband. “Whatever you do for the least of my brethren … you do to ME” Nice to know there are people who live those words.


**The ambulance has been here MANY times… mostly because the man’s diabetes gets so out of control that he goes unconscious… and they were called once to assist with getting the wife into the vehicle when hubby wasn’t around.

Hopefully this new home care service will be just the thing… they need round the clock care.

And I also give kudos to hubby…I don’t know many men…or women for that matter… that would wipe a strangers butt or any of the other countless helpful things he’s done.

I pray they get the help they need soon for their own good and for our family too.


Me too.

You are really a very belssed woman to have that man!


It sounds like you have things under control and have set your boundaries and are getting them help…so I will offer this:

Thank God each and every day for the opportunity to grow in grace and in patience. It is no accident that your family live next door to these people…it is no accident that they came to you with their problems and it is no accident that your family was given the opportunity and the privledge to help, clean someone up in the bathroom or help someone with a disability.

I know it was getting to be too much and I know you have your own family to take care of. That being said…remember we are Catholic and things are different to us compared to how the rest of the world sees things. The rest of the world sees that your family is doing this family a favor…spiritually however, they could have been the ones placed there by God to do you a favor! That favor being the opportunity to show love, grow in grace and grow in virtue!

You are a wonderful woman Malia and I know your husband is too! I know you are loving and caring, I just don’t want you to miss out on the opportunity to thank God for the opportunity to help since it is a gift. I know it is easy to get weary, I would probably feel the same way as you! I just want to remind you of the spiritual side of this and as tired as you are that they may actually be the ones helping you in the long run. God loves you so much, how wonderful that you answered his call, God bless.


I 2nd Monicad’s post greatly. We had a neighbor with similar issues who we helped occasionally, but her out of control alcoholic daughter and wild (not exaggerating) grandson lived there as well. My only saving grace was that I happened to be volunteering in the same Little League with her only well adjusted child and let him know as things went downhill and how much we had to help at times. Luckily he got right on it and we were ‘relieved of duty’. It did make me feel like I was ‘doing to one of the least of those’ so I really didn’t mind, except that I couldn’t pick her up from the floor and ripped my back a bit.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit