Neighbour niggles

Taking the time to visit and talk with the older people in your neighbourhood can be a great gift for both of you and it’s something I encourage everyone to do when they have a spare hour or two. But unfortunately, something that should be enjoyable can occasionally turn into a chore…

Neighbour niggles

Dear Wendyl, I spend time each day with my elderly neighbour, who never has any visitors and is very lonely. My problem is that she takes no interest in anyone else, including me, and talks non-stop about every tiny little detail of her life. And most of it is relentlessly negative. I find myself drifting off and it is becoming harder to motivate myself to call on her every day. Can you think of a way I might be able to get her to have a two-way conversation and see some good in people? That way, maybe her relatives will have more time for her also. Bored Stiff, Auckland


Dear Bored Stiff, This is one of those awful situations where you can find yourself swearing that you’ll never end up like your neighbour, but there does seem to be a lot of it about. And when people spend a lot of time on their own, especially if they don’t enjoy good health, it’s easy to become a bit too introspective. In my experience, people who talk non-stop without listening to others are afraid that no-one’s really listening to them.

So perhaps being more engaged with the conversation and asking more questions would make her feel happier and she might remember to stop and take an interest in you. And I think you are being too much of a saint visiting every day. At the moment, I think you are both bored with each other. Cut it back to three days a week for a while – you might find visiting a little easier and she might stop taking you for granted.

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