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

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 23 May 2023 | 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 am worried about my elderly neighbours upstairs they are dreadful to me but I think that is a call that they need help but they seem to have very deep seated mental health issues which I don't know how to manage
Maddy - 23-May-23 @ 6:29 PM
My neighbour is 66 lives on his own. Doesn't wash himself or clothes looks dirty all the time. The house smells bad and so does he. The nurse said its full of dust and old funature. Doesn't look like he is eat properly Has heath issue with his heart Few months ago last his partner. Is there somewhere I can report maybe he needs some help Sometime he doesnt look like he's with it Where.can I report this too with him knowing
Vin - 22-May-23 @ 4:05 PM
I hear my female neighbour shouting at her husband regularly. She sounds very aggressive whilst I can hear one word answers coming from him. I don’t want to get involved but she needs taking away. I would say they are both in their mid/late 60s. What would you do?
NMK - 16-Apr-23 @ 1:04 AM
Being friendly and keeping an eye out for elderly neighbours without being intrusive is basic human decency.Problems arise when relatives of elderly neighbours begin visiting their home, screaming and yelling at them, hammering on the windows then barging in without an invitation and causing problems for neighbouring residents by being rude, loud, violent and demanding.Elder Abuse and Neglect are rife, especially when vultures swoop in to claim the elderly person's property and feel entitled to live rent free and access their money and assets.Had an instance in the street where a distant relative suddenly appeared at an elderly neighbour's home, moved in and lived off her money and hired a solicitor to change her will to ensure that he inherited her house and property and shares.Some people are callous, cunning and mercenary and feel entitled to abuse and defraud vulnerable elderly people of their money and assets.Keep an eye out and don't hesitate to report neglect or elder abuse.
Exhausted - 5-Jan-23 @ 2:08 AM
I have an elderly neighbour.,I have not seen her since covid she live with her two daughters one is now sick .I think she is being neglect because she cry for help throughout the night with enable myself and my children not to have a good night sleep.i am fed up when to knock on there door no answer I am fed up don't know what to do .
Kerry - 1-Dec-22 @ 12:39 PM
Well I'm sorry Bev.But when I own my house and my children have to listen to an elderly neighbour who had no family and is clearly very distressed every night and shouts and has arguments with herself and scares my children then sorry but I'll do all I can to help as she is clearly not well.Hopefully if your ever unwell then as per your wish nobody gives a t*ss about you.
Jules - 27-Nov-22 @ 9:30 AM
You know what would be a good idea for most of the people making comments about older people or elderly people (not so much of a thing now, as younger people don't have the brains that older people have), that Good Idea is to MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS AND LEAVE THE ELDERLY ALONE, AND TAKE A LOOK AT YOURSELF FOR A CHANGEAND TAKE A LOOK AT PEOPLE AROUND YOUR AGE.We, the elderly, think a lot of younger people, not just the youth, but younger are STRANGE AS THE DEVIL.The don't even know a proper way to dress, and most of them don't even know where their waist is.They appear as though they are mostly not too bright. SO JUST MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS and take care of yourselves.
Bev - 7-Jul-22 @ 6:44 AM
My neighbor a few doors down from my condo is constantly walking around her condo clapping Also heard from other owners that she said she is going to kill herself Was in a drug store in the makeup isle looking for vitamins then when she was brought to the correct isle she said she couldn’t see the vitamins and was driving to get home. Should I be concerned?
Jo - 2-Sep-21 @ 11:46 PM
I am worry about my neighbor leave in apt 4. 7 people live. There including a kid in the past 3 day I didn't hear the kid he is allways playing aroud I believe they using drugs and the kid may be in danger
Sandy - 4-Aug-21 @ 1:58 AM
I'm worried about my neighbor, his not been seen or heard from in 6 weeks he has had people come and had no answer not even answering his phone to no one and his herbs that he was watering every morning have been left to die. What do I do. Can I call the police
Nikita - 9-Jul-21 @ 12:45 AM
I'm worried about my neighbours there 98 and 96 years old they normally go to bed at 7pm they have carers but I just phone cos her light were on when dog they thought it was morning now are both up said it's 930 in evening dint knowwhat to do
Gill - 18-May-21 @ 9:50 PM
My neighbour in a block of flats is always shouting and swearing out of his window he’s always on his own so clearly got mental health problems he seems to always be shouting at someone he believes is there. He’s being failed in regards to mental health support how do I report by worries and get him help, he’s not exactly approachable.
David - 15-Mar-21 @ 1:19 PM
Hi .A distant relative has either had her phone line cutoff or changed number ,un sure which . and a close relative is unable to contact her for quite some time. This relative needs to know if alls well with her as she is believed to be vulnerable . Where can this relative start without having police visit as this happened before.
Carer - 7-Mar-21 @ 3:02 PM
My neighbour's downstairs are heroin users and they are constantly shouting to each other. One lives in the front room and one stays in the bedroom. I've been a neighbour to them for over two years and I hear them everyday all day. The past couple of days I have heard nothing from them, not even from their dog. This is very unusual. What do you think I should do. They are not the type of people who would appreciate a knock on the door.
Bmck - 20-Feb-21 @ 10:29 PM
My neighbour is elderly in her 80s and just lost a sister to cancer. She cries everyday during the night and I am really concerned about her mental state. Mobility is poor and is home bound. I am not quite sure if she is able to cook by herself now.. i only take her bin out and in but we are not close.
None - 19-Jan-21 @ 8:30 PM
A neighbour 2 doors down has a mouse infestataion im having trouble also as a result.. entered his house today droppings everywhere.. he has no kitchen looked derelict no heating... either.. he lives upstairs with a little heater.. not sanitary or safe... what can i do
Matty - 7-Jan-21 @ 6:57 PM
I’m concerned about my elderly neighbours who lives with their son (over 50). Every evening for the past fortnight the son shouts and screams at them. This morning at 1am he was shouting at them, which woke myself and daughter up. We are growing more concerned for them. Unfortunately the son/family are not the sort of people you can talk to or reason with, we’ve hadbad interactions with them in the past. What can we do??
Andi - 29-Dec-20 @ 5:20 PM
There is a bungalow across from me where the lady has a fairly regular routine. Curtains are open every morning, you see her pottering around her garden and her lights are switched on in the front room at night. Today the curtains have remained close, its dark and there are no lights on and I haven't spotted her outside (working from home with an upstairs bedroom as an office straight next to a window I've come to notice her routine.) Someone did knock her door earlier but don't think they got an answer. I don't know this lady at all and wouldn't want to alarm her by knocking the door loudly. It could just be that she's out for the day. Would you all leave it for tonight and check in the morning?
Tallie - 17-Dec-20 @ 4:19 PM
Got my question answered by my other neighbour , she did the same thing to her when she moved in , as I have not long moved in , she's just lonely , I looked after my elderly father for nearly 10 years .
Dee - 10-Dec-20 @ 5:23 PM
Worried about my neighbour downstairs she doesn't speak English, Chinese lady keeps giving me things and I keep saying no but she keeps giving me things what do I do.
Dee - 10-Dec-20 @ 1:07 AM
Dee, please contact adult social services through your council and say you're concerned for a vulnerable neighbour.
Pix - 22-Nov-20 @ 12:22 PM
My neighbors husband died of Colon Cancer a few months ago. Ironically, he was taking care of her, because she hasn't been well for years...I am not sure, because they never said what was wrong. I know she is alone with a dog and a bird and her living conditions are horrible. I have brought over food and water, but I can't do it any more, it is hard to breathe in her house and her dog hates me. The house is dark and dirty and smells awlful, I wear a mask, but she doesn't. I don't know what to do to help her living conditions. She doesn't have family or any other friends.
Dee - 22-Nov-20 @ 10:23 AM
My next door neighbor hasn't made a sound for weeks. He's elderly and I haven't seen him or seen his usual shopping deliveries for a while. We don't speak often and I don't want to knock on his door in case he thinks I'm being nosey what should I do? Thankyou
concerned - 31-Aug-20 @ 12:22 PM
I can see into the back bedroom of my elderly neighbours house from my garden and can see that the walls and ceiling are covered in mould. There has been a tarpaulin on the badly damaged roof for years and has never been fixed. He is fully mobile and seems to happily help everyone else but I'm concerned about the state he himself is living in. We arent on talking terms, I've only just moved in.
Concerned - 9-Aug-20 @ 12:01 AM
Sometimes being to nose hurts too sometimes people have there way of living and don’t want to be disturbed Some people are just plan nosy I know I just stay in my house because I don’t like people and sometimes older people don’t like others meddling also Mabey they can’t eat or they don’t have money so getting them involved with well fair and stuff like that could be bad just nock once check offer a meal or advice and if ur truly concern they do it but becareful trying to get someone into deeper for how they like to live Mabey they live in the old days and like to live like someone in there time or in the mountains not all people love modern and do things what some people call normal let people let live. Unless ur truly concerned
Whatever - 30-Jul-20 @ 10:10 PM
I have a semi detached house with neighbours in flats adjoining that have chimney fires.One neighbour has mental health issues and the other night the fire alarm went on for 1 hour, I investigated and could see no obvious signs of a fire apart from chimney smoke.Prior to this the other neighbours chimney has had sparks coming out of the chimney.My concern is for the state of both adjoining chimneys and obviously for potential house fires.What can I do to raise my concerns.Should I take it up with the fire brigade?Both neighbours are not approachable in the normal sense of the word and I am concerned there will indeed be a house fire one day.Your advice would be gladly received.Many thanks
Concerned - 17-Feb-20 @ 10:07 PM
I've been watching an elderly neighbour walking around in her nightclothes, tending her garden for the last week or so [Nov. 15 2019] current temperature5 degrees and its 17:00 hrs, >its dark its bitterly cold and its spitting with rain, she and her dog are in the garden in her bedclothes> I attempted to inform my local social services and have been told in no uncertain terms "because you're not a family member, 'we' can't take your report" so I called the Police, apparently according to the officer, "I'm over thinking the situation" and I should mind my own business and let the family deal with the problem... So much for being a 'good Samaritan' in my neighbourhood... so my question: what's blue and kills old people? answer: Hyperthermia well done ***shire social Services and Police Force
Frosty - 15-Nov-19 @ 4:57 PM
I am caring for my elderly Mother and have been considered by our local council housing to be a grade 2 priority for a move to be nearer my Mother for the last 5 years. In all that time I have not seen my next door neighbour. I, and others, have contacted our local authorities and landlords and yet the flat remains empty. Do I contact the Police??
Small teeth - 14-Sep-19 @ 8:55 AM
When my elderly neighbour's door is open the smell is overpowering of urine. I think he may need some kind of help. I am disabled so unfortunately unable to help. Should I call adult social services. Any help would be appreciated.
Rowan - 3-Aug-19 @ 1:15 PM
I am currently living with my 97 year old grandmother while I am studying in London. But I am almost at the end of my course and will be leaving very soon. My mother lived and cared for my grandmother until my mother got sick and died 2 years ago. My grandmother has been alone after my mother's death, by living with her this year I have come to the realisation that she can not be alone. She sometimes leaves the key in the front door, or the front door wide open. She has forgotten she has left the pan on the hob, I do not think she can physically take a shower or have a bath. She insists she is independent but I worry that something will happen. She is legally blind in one eye and often can't see when food has gone mouldy but will eat it anyways. Her daughters visit her once a week or every two weeks. I am concerned about her once I leave and I am liable as a the house owner if anything should happen to her. What should I do?
Sandie - 23-May-19 @ 9:44 AM
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