A Woman Helped Her Disabled Neighbor, but When They Cancelled Their Aide and Expected Her to Help Regularly the Woman Refused – Is She Wrong to Decline?

The woman began helping her neighbor with small tasks but has now been asked to regularly help with her groceries. She feels taken advantage of – is she wrong to refuse?

She Has a Disabled Neighbor

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The woman said, “I have a disabled neighbor who I’ve lived near for about 7 years. We have hung out here and there over the years, but we are not super close. She lives alone and has no family nearby.” 

She Doesn’t Know Much About the Disability

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She added, “She has a disability that I don’t know much about which makes it impossible to lift anything at all from the ground, and limited range of motion with her arms. Though I do see her doing work with her hands.”

They Began Doing Favors for Her

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A few years ago, the neighbor began texting her and her husband to do small favors such as opening a window or putting her sleep apnea machine together. The woman also added, “She has an aide who calls in frequently.”

She Needed More and More Help

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One day, the neighbor asked if the woman could help with her grocery deliveries, to which she happily assisted. Since then the neighbor began texting multiple times per week to help with food deliveries. 

She Crossed the Line

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The woman explained, “Recently, she asked for help and I ended up taking out lots of trash and doing a load of laundry, which I felt crossed the line. The grocery delivery slots are severely limited, and she’s asked 6 weeks in a row for help putting them away.”

The Neighbor Asked for Permanent Assistance

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Recently, the neighbor asked her if she would agree to putting her groceries away permanently. She pushed back and said that it was a temporary favor that would end once she was able to schedule them with her home health aide.

She is Phasing out Her Aide

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The neighbor explained that she was phasing out the aide and was hoping to start a group of people to exchange labor for each other. The woman added, “She is asking that I join and commit to putting the groceries away sometimes, being a backup for other chores when people cannot do them, and walk her dog once a week.”

She Clarified the Situation

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“I am a full-time public school teacher and it’s a job that breeds compassion burnout as is. I do not get joy out of helping her.” 

She Added

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“Oftentimes the requests for favors have come while I’m in bed and I have to get dressed or say no, to which I feel she has bristled slightly when told no. I feel bad knowing that she has these limitations, but my mindset says that she should accommodate the cost for an aide, rather than replace that labor with friends and neighbors. Am I being ableist?”

The Neighbor Does Thank Her

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She added, “The neighbor often suggests in text that she can offer things in return for the help. She did give me flowers once and a bottle of wine another time. She does say thank you.”

She Turned to the Internet for Advice

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One user commented, “You are not free labor. You aren’t a friend or family. I’m not saying don’t shovel her driveway if you have time during the winter, or put her trash can back from the street if it’s still out when you do yours, but these things are kindnesses. They are not a job.”

Another Person Shared Their Opinion

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“I find it very confusing that she decided to start a “labor trade” or whatever without consulting you and basically volunteering you for it. Like why would she assume she could just phase out her aide and you’d just take over everything for free?”

Someone Else Commented

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“It stops being a favor when it becomes a repeated chore. There is an aide available, she just doesn’t want to pay. I would double down with a ‘I don’t mind helping on the rare occasion that no one else is able to cover. I cannot commit to weekly chores for you when there are other situations occurring in my life’.”

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