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What to do if You're Concerned About the Health of a Neighbour

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 25 Jun 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Neighbour Health Concern Contacting

As responsible neighbours, we should all try to be a bit more vigilant and show a little more interest in those who live near us, especially Elderly Neighbours or those who live on their own, particularly with regards to any health issues they might have.

Telltale Signs that a Neighbour Might be in Poor Health

There are often many telltale signs that a neighbour’s health may be in jeopardy simply. Permanently open or closed curtains can be a giveaway, as can newspapers sticking out of letterboxes for an unusual length of time. There can be all manner of reasons why you might suspect something may be wrong but if you strongly sense that something is not quite right, there is no reason why you should not check to see if a neighbour is OK.

If you know their phone number or can find that out, take that option first. If you’re able to speak with the person concerned, just tell them why you felt the need to call and ask them if they’re OK. Alternatively, if you’re not their immediate neighbour, ask the neighbour who lives next door about the current situation before you take any action, as they may be able to reassure you that all is well.

Dealing with the Elderly

The elderly, in particular, are often most at risk of falling ill without anyone realising and they can also be renowned for being the most stubborn when it comes to accepting they are sick and in need of help. If you’re able to gain access to a house where you suspect an elderly person (or anyone of any age, in fact) is in poor health and in need of help, sit down for a while and just pass the time of day with them a little. Talking about life in general will often help them open up a bit more to you, and they’re more likely to discuss issues such as their general well-being.

Recognising they Might Need Help

You don’t need to be a first-aid expert or to have any kind of medical knowledge to determine whether or not a person’s health is a potentially life-threatening situation. Just sitting and chatting to them, observing them and their surroundings will often give you clear signals that all might not be well. Do they look clean, is the house reasonably tidy? Go into the kitchen. Does it look as though they’ve had a meal recently?

If they have pets, is there food and water in the bowls. Are there signs of pet urine or faeces? Do their pets seem fretful or concerned? Often, it’s what you observe around you which will tell you a lot more than the person concerned will express verbally.

What to Do in a Potential Emergency Situation

If you cannot contact a person or any of their relatives on the phone or gain access to their home, you may have no option but to contact the police or social services and report this. Obviously, you’ll need to have some reasonably sufficient grounds for them to investigate the matter. For example, if you know the person visits the same places at the same time each day and they haven’t been seen for days, then it’s reasonable to call the police or social services to ask them to investigate the matter further.

In the event you can gain access and the person has lapsed into unconsciousness or has some other serious health issues, you need to call the ambulance service straight away, carry out any first aid which may be needed and wait for help to arrive.

Non-Emergency but Worrying Situations

If you’ve been able to gain access to the house and have spoken to the person concerned, yet are still troubled by what you witness with regard to their health, try to find out if they have any relatives. You can always weave this into a conversation, by prompting them to give you the contact details of a relative they could get in touch with if they were to become ‘really’ poorly.

Then, if you’re able to get that information from them, you could always call the relative, expressing your concerns and simply advise them that it might be worth checking up on your neighbour. Perhaps the person themselves might be willing to offer you a key in return for you running a few errands for them so it’s easier to let yourself in. You could give them your phone number and tell them not to hesitate in calling you if they’ve got any problems.

All situations of this nature are very different and determining a level of concern isn’t always easy or straightforward. Often tact and diplomacy play a big part as well. Gaining trust is another issue and, where possible, you need to try to enlist the help of relatives to also act as ‘lookouts’.

Ultimately, however, if you think that a situation could be life threatening, you need to call the emergency services or, at the very least, get in touch your local social services department.

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I'm concerned for my neighbour who lives in the flat up from me. She has no window and hasn't done now for approx 2 years. Her garden is getting out of control and is making mine and other neighbours homes look horrendous. I do know she is under the social but no one ever seems to come to visit her and she doesn't leave her house which makes me think how the hell is she surviving plus she has a dog which she never takes out which is cruel who can I talk to for help ?
Lea - 25-Jun-17 @ 10:19 AM
Can you help our next door neighbour understand that she no longer can cope by herself. She no longer responds to banging on her door,window or her name. She totally ignores you because her mind is somewhere else and not on this planet. She leaves her front door open,and doesn't respond if you enter in the room like most people would. Her so called home helps have done nothing to help her and now she's annoying others. Can you help her?
Tigi - 22-Apr-17 @ 12:43 AM
Our next door neighbour is not capable of looking out for herself any more. She leaves her front door ajar at night,she doesn't answer your calling her name,knocking on the door,knocking on the window or any other form of calling. She is not deaf or hard of hearing,she is not on this planet mentally. Not only is she a danger to herself constantly but now she's becoming a nuisance. Her so called home helps show no concern about her well-being or they would have noticed she's She's got worse over time! Can you help her please,she needs reassessing.
Tigi - 22-Apr-17 @ 12:30 AM
Rosie - Your Question:
In the last year we moved into a house, it became apparent early on that the elderly neighbour next door, does not like us, she has on a number of occasions made accusations (false) about certain things, to the point she called the police stating we were having a party and burning chemicals, a local PSCO came and to her embarrassment realised we were in actual fact having a small family BBQ, we showed her all the things that have happened over the last year and she informed us we were within our right to log and start proceedings for harassment if we wished, we declined and instead sought advice from the military priest in our next steps, as its known that she is a Christian woman and we believed she worshipped at a local church, this has been hard to find so we are trying to find alternatives solutions, we have small children who should not bear witness to her rants, rants that although not of foul language can put stress on a family that bought this home to bring our children up in and for us to enjoy spending time in the garden. This is obviously the short version and any advice would be appreciated.

Our Response:
Could you perhaps try mediation? Citizens' Advice will have a list of local mediation services. If you are actually worried about the state of your neighbour's mind, could you try having a word with one of her friends/family that visits the property regularly?
ProblemNeighbours - 13-Apr-17 @ 12:49 PM
In the last year we moved into a house, it became apparent early on that the elderly neighbour next door, does not like us, she has on a number of occasions made accusations (false) about certain things, to the point she called the police stating we were having a party and burning chemicals, a local PSCO came and to her embarrassment realised we were in actual fact having a small family BBQ, we showed her all the things that have happened over the last year and she informed us we were within our right to log and start proceedings for harassment if we wished, we declined and instead sought advice from the military priest in our next steps, as its known that she is a Christian woman and we believed she worshipped at a local church, this has been hard to find so we are trying to find alternatives solutions, we have small children who should not bear witness to her rants, rants that although not of foul language can put stress on a family that bought this home to bring our children up in and for us to enjoy spending time in the garden. This is obviously the short version and any advice would be appreciated.
Rosie - 11-Apr-17 @ 4:31 PM
Paul74 - Your Question:
I work in a supermarket cafe and I'm concerned about an elderly customer who comes in regularly , he has dementia and over the last few months I have seen a big decline in both his physical appearance and his mental health , he mentions family but I have not seen any family with him for a very long time. He wanders about for a lot of the day he often comes in for something to eat but eats very little and then maybe comes back a couple of hours later but has no recollection of having been earlier , he's been buying paracetamol ,then day later buying more , I'm concerned he doesn't know when he's taken them or how many , overall I'm concerned for his wellbeing it's clear to see he's not a well man and needs help , I'm just not sure what I can do about it

Our Response:
Is there anyway you can find out his name or where he lives? It's a really difficult situation as he's just a customer, so these are things you don't usually get to find out. You could try contacting social services for advice - they may be willing to pop in one time when he's at your café?
ProblemNeighbours - 27-Mar-17 @ 12:41 PM
I work in a supermarket cafe and I'm concerned about an elderly customer who comes in regularly , he has dementia and over the last few months I have seen a big decline in both his physical appearance and his mental health , he mentions family but I have not seen any family with him for a very long time . He wanders about for a lot of the day he often comes in for something to eat but eats very little and then maybe comes back a couple of hours later but has no recollection of having been earlier , he's been buying paracetamol ,then day later buying more , I'm concerned he doesn't know when he's taken them or how many , overall I'm concerned for his wellbeing it's clear to see he's not a well man and needs help , I'm just not surewhat I can do about it
Paul74 - 25-Mar-17 @ 10:13 PM
Lmenz - Your Question:
I have an elderly couple living above me and my partner. The woman is partially blind and her husband and we believe her husband had dementia, from 7am to 11pm at night they argue, scream, shouting (he shouts for help, tells his wife to F off and she is telling him to be quiet and to stop shouting constantly), they go out with their daughter on a Saturday we presume and all is well but on their return straight back to it. We cannot get a good night sleep because of it and since we bought the flat it has only worsened!!! Any ideas what we can do other than potentially speaking to their daughter?

Our Response:
You could start by talking to the neighbours directly. They might not realise that they are disturbing others. It can be very frustrating living with someone who has dementia and also to be suffering from it as an individual, so maybe they aren't coping very well. Talking to your daughter is the next approach. If that doesn't resolve things, your environmental health officer may be able to investigate even though the hours you mention aren't necessarily those that would warrant action.
ProblemNeighbours - 22-Mar-17 @ 11:18 AM
I have an elderly couple living above me and my partner. The woman is partially blind and her husband and we believe her husband had dementia, from 7am to 11pm at night they argue, scream, shouting (he shouts for help, tells his wife to F off and she is telling him to be quiet and to stop shouting constantly), they go out with their daughter on a Saturday we presume and all is well but on their return straight back to it. We cannot get a good night sleep because of it and since we bought the flat it has only worsened!!! Any ideas what we can do other than potentially speaking to their daughter?
Lmenz - 19-Mar-17 @ 12:46 PM
The old lady in the stair constantly screams and shouts through the night and through the day she lives alone I don't know why she would be doing this her daughter isn't approachable to talk to about this...
...... - 4-Feb-17 @ 6:30 AM
I currently live above an elderly woman has huttisons. The woman now tends to scream continusoly during early hours and during the day.. never when home help is there and lives with her husband.. she screams for help time to time but i am unable to knock on there door to see if shes ok as she takes aggressive outbursts. Her husband says everythings fine a deny the screamingbut i know he doesnt want her in a home.. im not sure what to do im worries about the woman
Enzie - 2-Jan-17 @ 9:13 AM
RedPoppy - Your Question:
While walking our dogs I was speaking to an elderly woman who I only know by sight but know lives on her own in a large house and who I suspect has no family. She mentioned she was about to post a cheque for just over £1000 to NPower which I said I thought sounded a lot. She claimed she had not heard the meter reader knock so the meter had not been read, and it was for 3 bills. My initial concern was that it might be hugely overestimated and to try to get her to submit a meter reading. I offered to accompany her to read the meter but she said she knew how.I tried to enquire when she had last made a payment and she went on to say that she had been contacted by them some time ago to take part in a survey and was told because of this not to pay the bills. Now she had been asked to pay but she said they had already knocked something off the amount due, bringing it down to this amount she was about to post. That all sounds odd to me so now instead of just being worried that she is perhaps paying an overestimated bill I am worried she might be victim of a scam. I offered to come around to look at her paperwork, the bills and payments she has made but she declined.Is there anything I could and should be doing.

Our Response:
That's very considerate of you, but if she refuses your help there's very little you can do at this stage. Next time you see her ask her about it again it might not hurt to mention that you were worried she had been the subject of scam so she'd appreciate why you were asking.
ProblemNeighbours - 30-Sep-16 @ 2:43 PM
While walking our dogs I was speaking to an elderly woman who I only know by sight but know lives on her own in a large house and who I suspect has no family.She mentioned she was about to post a cheque for just over £1000 to NPower which I said I thought sounded a lot.She claimed she had not heard the meter reader knock so the meter had not been read, and it was for 3 bills.My initial concern was that it might be hugely overestimated and to try to get her to submit a meter reading.I offered to accompany her to read the meter but she said she knew how. I tried to enquire when she had last made a payment and she went on to say that she had been contacted by them some time ago to take part in a survey and was told because of this not to pay the bills.Now she had been asked to pay but she said they had already knocked something off the amount due, bringing it down to this amount she was about to post.That all sounds odd to me so now instead of just being worried that she is perhaps paying an overestimated bill I am worried she might be victim of a scam.I offered to come around to look at her paperwork, the bills and payments she has made but she declined. Is there anything I could and should be doing.
RedPoppy - 30-Sep-16 @ 10:38 AM
Taylor - Your Question:
Hi, it is early morning and I have a neighbor that lives behind me with dogs and a few hrs ago I realized they were whining to get back inside. The neighbor is elderly and I have even seen the ambulance come,to her house in the past. I can see the dogs of,the back stoop wanting inside. I worry she fell or went to lie down and is still unconscious. I tried to get a hold of her son but he didn't answer so I am at a loss next to calling the police. Since it has only been 4 hours I feel it is too soon to do that.Also in the year I have lived here, her dogs have never whined to get back inside.

Our Response:
Call the police on the non-emergency number 101. It's clear that something might be wrong if the dogs are whining to get back inside.
ProblemNeighbours - 13-Sep-16 @ 11:54 AM
Hi, it is early morning and I have a neighbor that lives behind me with dogs and a few hrs ago I realized they were whining to get back inside. The neighbor is elderly and I have even seen the ambulance come,to her house in the past. I can see the dogs of,the back stoop wanting inside. I worry she fell or went to lie down and is still unconscious. I tried to get a hold of her son but he didn't answer so I am at a loss next to calling the police. Since it has only been 4 hours I feel it is too soon to do that... Also in the year I have lived here, her dogs have never whined to get back inside.
Taylor - 11-Sep-16 @ 2:27 PM
StuartM90 - Your Question:
Hey, I live in a top floor apartment with my partner, where is a lady that lives alone below us and lately we've noticed she has gone very quiet. her car has not moved for weeks, all her curtains and blinds are shut and we haven't heard or seen her leaving the house. The only sign of life I've managed to detect is whole out working on my car I could hear dishes being clanged together as though she was washing and stacking. Apart from that though.absolutely nothing? Should I be concerned and maybe do something? I have also tried knocking once or twice but I get no response.

Our Response:
If you've heard her moving about it might all be fine, but if you get no response, try putting a note through asking her to contact you. If you don't hear from her, give your local police a call, they'll be happy to check for you.
ProblemNeighbours - 14-Jul-16 @ 10:10 AM
Hey, I live in a top floor apartment with my partner, where is a lady that lives alone below us and lately we've noticed she has gone very quiet... her car has not moved for weeks, all her curtains and blinds are shut and we haven't heard or seen her leaving the house. The only sign of life I've managed to detect is whole out working on my car I could hear dishes being clanged together as though she was washing and stacking. Apart from that though...absolutely nothing? Should I be concerned and maybe do something? I have also tried knocking once or twice but I get no response.
StuartM90 - 11-Jul-16 @ 12:12 AM
Hi I live across the road from an elderly lady who I've known for 20 years, she's lives with her daughters daughter and she is working during the day which means the lady in question is on her own during the daytime. Every day in wind and rain she hobbles up the steps outside her house and stops every stranger walking past to take her to her daughters house, who's not there. Last week she stopped a woman and two kids and took them in her house. She didn't know these people and it's only a matter of time before she asks the wrong person and they end up doing something horrible to her. Can you give some advice on who to contact so I can get someone out to her house to assess how much in danger she is to herself? Only last year there was a fire in her bedroom
J - 30-Jun-16 @ 1:55 PM
Danni92 - Your Question:
I don't know what to do! I live in a house where my garden is over looked by some flats, there bathroom/kitchen windows look out onto my back garden. I have noticed the past 3 days that one of the windows has been wide open all day, I wouldn't find this unusual but it has been freezing cold and snowing on and off so it has started worrying me now. I can't access the flats tp get in and check with the neighbour and I don't want to call emergency incase it is all innocent and I'm over thinking. Could you please give me some advice.

Our Response:
Could you find details of the landlord perhaps? If you call the police on 101 it's not treated as an emergency and they may just send a PCSO round to take a look in the course of his normal activities. Better to do something rather than nothing!
ProblemNeighbours - 29-Apr-16 @ 10:40 AM
I don't know what to do! I live in a house where my garden is over looked by some flats, there bathroom/kitchen windows look out onto my back garden. I have noticed the past 3 days that one of the windows has been wide open all day, I wouldn't find this unusual but it has been freezing cold and snowing on and off so it has started worrying me now. I can't access the flats tp get in and check with the neighbour and I don't want to call emergency incase it is all innocent and I'm over thinking. Could you please give me some advice.
Danni92 - 27-Apr-16 @ 8:14 PM
@Suzzieb23. You could ask social services (contact them via your local/county council) to investigate. They will respect your confidentiality.
ProblemNeighbours - 16-Jun-15 @ 12:29 PM
Who can I contact over the social welfare of my neighbour please? She is paralysed and living on her own. Her family do not bother with her anymore and I recently discovered from herself that she had not been out of her home for months. She appeared upset by this and was on the verge of tears while I was talking to her. I don't drive and have health problems myself and feel I am not able to help her. Please could you tell me if there are any options for someone to contact or visit her anonymously as I don't want her to think I am interfering but I am concerned that she may become depressed. Kind Regards Sue Blake
Suzzieb23 - 11-Jun-15 @ 2:52 PM
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