So glad that I am ME

That title sounds a bit self centred... not meant to be.  Let me explain.

I have a neighbour, two doors away in our quiet little close.  She is in her 80's now.  Her husband died some years ago and she lives alone.  About two years ago she had a fall down stairs and the ambulance crew had to break in through the window to get to her - I don't know how long she lay at the foot of the stairs before her carer turned up and couldn't get in the door (she was lying on the floor right behind the front door).  Anyway she got better and had her bed brought downstairs into the living room, the bathroom is downstairs too so it was considered that she had everything she needed I guess, and certainly we haven't seen a carer come into the close for many months.

Of late she has taken to wandering around the village aimlessly, asking people what day of the week it is.  She got on the bus to go to a local town and ended up in another town altogether in the other direction.  She managed to get home again.

Over the weekend she came into my house (just opened the door and wandered in) shouted out "coo-wee" then asked me what day it was.  I said it's Saturday.  She went back out and I watched her wander across the street and try the door of another house... in she went... a few minutes later she was out again and heading back to my house.  As she got to my door I opened it and she asked me what day it was.

Over the course of the weekend she visited me more than 20 times, mostly just walking straight into my house.  I tried everything, I wrote on a piece of paper what day it was.  I walked with her back to her home and made sure everything was ok there... it seemed to be.  I did notice on the second day that she was still wearing the same clothes and had the same food stuck on her face as she had the day before - she had not washed and it was obvious no one was looking after her.

Monday morning began the same way, with her walking round into my back garden and trying the conservatory door and thumping on the window to be let in.  I took her with me to my neighbour and we discussed taking her round to the doctors.  My neighbour had the phone number of her eldest son but said he didn't wish to call him because the last time he did that the son had been quite aggressive with him, implying that he was interfering.  Anyway to cut a long story short we took her to the doctors who wouldn't see her until later in the day and so we tried to get her to stay in her home until the appointment time (with limited success).  We collected her in time for her doctor's appointment.

The receptionist would not allow us into the surgery with her because we are not next of kin - Oh we know her well they said.  They phoned her son. The doctor bandaged her leg where she had an ulcer that had become infected.  Gave her a prescription (one assumes pennicillin, will she remember to take it?) and gave her over into the care of her son, who arrived, in a hurry, frustrated and angry and shouted at her because she had mislaid her keys.  I assume he got the prescription and took her home.  He certainly didn't stay.  Today, Tuesday, we have not seen her.  I look out the window where I can see her front door and I worry.  My neighbour, who is also not a spring chicken, told me that he has done as much as he can, and that he really can't get involved any more - she isn't his responsibility.  I understand.  She's not my responsibility either.

The old lady's son lives in the next street.  Apparently she also has another child and about 8 or 9 grandchildren... many of whom are teenagers or older.  They all live in our village.  I pick up the phone to my mother in law who lives alone and said "I did tell you that you could come and live with us any time you wanted to didn't I?"  "Yes" she replied, "I know I can."


  1. This is such a sad story Billie Jane and I couldn't help but cry reading it. Very heartbreaking indeed. How terrible to have an uncaring son like this plus grandchildren who obviously don't care. I so feel for you as I would be very concerned and worried about her plight as well. Your mother-in-law is blessed to have a daughter-in-law like you.

    1. And today is Wednesday and after my worrying all yesterday about whether she was ok or not she turned up at my door just a few minutes ago to ask what day it was. The temptation to adopt her is really strong, but realistically I shouldn't. Well at least I know she is alive.

  2. Maybe get in touch with social services - very upsetting - the son s behaviour is not good; I know how aggressive people can be if you express concern for their elderly relatives.
    However, this person should not be alone.
    I am afraid with such a huge aging population that this neglect is going to become more and more common and we could all be in this situation soon or later.


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