My neighbour says she's fine but I'm worried about her - what can I do?

Our Ask an expert column looks at safeguarding and what you can do if you're concerned about someone else.

Uncollected post in a letterbox

‘My neighbour has dementia and lives alone. She’s lost weight and isn’t changing her clothes or going out. She says all is fine, but I’m worried – what can I do?’

Safeguarding concerns 

It’s hard to know what to do if you’re concerned about someone’s wellbeing, yet they tell you everything is fine. This could be the case whether or not they have dementia, though you might have particular worries if they do. 

If your neighbour has any family or friends who visit her, perhaps find out if they know what is happening and whether they could help. If this isn’t possible, you can share your concerns with local social services. 

Making decisions and managing difficult situations

Find out about mental capacity and get advice on how to approach decision-making for someone with dementia.

Find out more

Self-neglect 

Self-neglect – where a person isn’t looking after themselves as well as they should be – can get worse and lead to many problems. 

If you raise a safeguarding concern about your neighbour with social services, they have the power to look into it and work out how best to help her. They could find out what she needs to stay healthy and well at home. 

Going to social services might seem like an extreme thing to do. However, if your neighbour is telling you that everything is fine and you feel that it really isn’t, then it’s important she gets the support she needs. Contacting social services – who can find the right solutions with her involvement – could be a vital step in helping her. 

Other concerns 

As well as self-neglect, there are a number of other signs of possible abuse or neglect that could be a reason to raise a safeguarding concern with social services. 

  • Noticing signs of financial abuse – for example, the person lacks money for basics like heating or for other things they’d usually spend it on, they’re befriended by someone new who may be taking advantage of them, or they’re repeatedly buying items from sales callers. 
  • Spotting bruising, cuts, burns or other marks on the person. 
  • Witnessing or hearing arguments that appear more severe than you’d expect, for example they may include verbal or physical abuse. 
  • Not seeing someone for a long time – especially if you’d usually expect to see them, or if they miss something they regularly go to. You might notice their bins not being put out or post not being picked up. 

If you believe that someone is in any immediate danger, then you should call 999 – that is what the emergency services are there for. In other cases, a call to social services could lead to them finding out what can be done to help.

Next steps

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26 comments

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I have a neighbour who has no family and Is 92 she comes round you our house for bread and butter and other items . I keep them stocked up for her she is constantly loosing her door keys . Sometimes her clothes are dirty want to help her but I am not a family member what can we do , my mother had dementia and I worried she is going the same way , she will call at our house late on a night what can we do

Hello Lynn and thanks for getting in touch.

If you are based in the UK, we'd strongly recommend speaking with one of our dementia advisers about your neighbour. They will listen to the situation and provide you with advice and support.

Please call our Dementia Connect support line on 0333 150 3456. (More information on opening times, and other methods of contact, can be found here: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/dementia-connect-support-line)

If you're based in the US, please contact the Alzheimer's Association helpline: https://alz.org/help-support/resources/helpline

Or if you're based in Canada, please contact the Alzheimer's Society of Canada helpline: https://alzheimer.ca/en/Home/ContactUs

You might benefit from joining our online community. Talking Point is the ideal place for carers and other people affected by dementia to share their personal experiences, and offer advice and support to others going through similar situations. You can browse the conversations within the community or sign up for free: https://forum.alzheimers.org.uk

We hope this is helpful for now. Please do contact our support line on 0333 150 3456 if you're UK based.

Alzheimer's Society website team

My neighbor drinks all the time and has dementia
Her children ignor it as she lives on the lake and they use her facilities. How to help

Hi Kelly,

Thanks for contacting us.

It's difficult to give advice on your neighbour's situation without knowing a bit more information. Please call our Dementia Connect support line on 0333 150 3456 to speak to one of our advisers. You can find more details about the support line (including opening hours) here: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/dementia-connect-support-line

Many thanks,

Alzheimer's Society website team

My neighbour Tony is in his 70's, I'm not sure if he has a condition or what it would be. Every night from 8.30 he starts shouting at himself as he counts the switches in each room saying, 1,2,3,4 OK there all off, the curtains closed, then he starts again, 1,2,3,4. OK there all off, the curtains closed. After a few time of saying this he starts getting angry and shouts 'Tony for f*** sake, lights are off, switches off curtains closed, the last time Tony, 1,2,3,4, 'and continues over and over again until 12.30 to 1 a.m getting louder and louder and banging more and more out of frustration. He must be exhausted, unfortunately my husband and I and my daughter with her 18 month baby are either woken up or unable to get to sleep. We feel so sad for him, if I see him over the weekend maybe coming home from shopping he seems very normal and lovely, he lives alone. Is there any literature we could pop through his door that might help him, or would he not recognise he has a problem? In the last 2 years it takes him longer and longer to go to bed, he does this in every room of his house. Please can you advise.

Hi Carole,

Thanks for your comment, and sorry to hear about this difficult situation with your neighbour.

We do have free publications and factsheets about dementia available through our website. However, it would help to know a bit more about what's been happening to know what is most appropriate.

We'd strongly recommend calling our Dementia Connect support line for more information and support. They will be able to learn more about your neighbour's situation and give relevant advice. You can call our Dementia Connect support line on 0333 150 3456. More details (including opening hours) are available here: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/dementia-connect-support-line

I hope this is helpful, Carole.

Alzheimer's Society website team

Myself and 2 other ppl that live on our street believe my next door neighbor has dementia. I hear her walking about her house during the night, and her TV is very loud and is on until the easily morning. She's reported me to the council for noise nuisance because she firmly believes I play music from 5am through to 1am each day, but it's not true. I work very long hours and im not even in the house until 7pm. I've heard her telling the neighbors this also. I would like to help her but I don't know how to. It's getting me down as I live alone. Are these signs of dementia?

Hi Mel,

Thanks for getting in touch. We're very sorry to hear you're going through a difficult time with your neighbour.

We cannot diagnose from a distance, but it's a good idea to seek support if you're concerned about your neighbour's and your own well-being.

We recommend calling our Dementia Connect support line on 0333 150 3456. You can speak to one of our trained dementia advisers about your concerns and they can provide information, advice and support on how to manage the situation. More information about the support line, including opening hours, is available here: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/dementia-connect-support-line

We hope this helps, Mel.

Alzheimer's Society blog team

Hello, my neighbour has dementia. She receives round the clock care from carers in the home. She has a tendency to make noises in the nights when she is on her own e.g screaming help me and just general shouting. Our main bedroom is directly next door to hers and we have tried moving into the spare bedroom to see if this makes a difference as it is getting to the point where we can’t sleep/are woken up from sleep. We understand the challenges of dementia, and of course know she can’t help it. However it’s now at the point where it is having a significant on our well-being and been able to enjoy our home. The carers also put her tv on so loud that we can hear it from the bedroom which doesn’t help my partner who works shifts. How do I approach this without sounding selfish or cold hearted (I can assure you I’m not!).

Hello Margaret,

Thanks for getting in touch. We'd suggest calling Dementia Connect support line on 0333 150 3456 to speak with a dementia adviser. They can listen to the current situation and provide information and support: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/dementia-connect-support-line

You may also benefit from our online community, Talking Point. People affected by dementia, including carers and family members, share their experiences and insight. You can ask questions of the community, or just read what other people have to say: https://forum.alzheimers.org.uk/

We hope this helps.

Alzheimer's Society blog team

So my neighbour is elderly .. think she must be in her 90’s she keeps throwing her bin bags at my house and shouting with aggression which I don’t mind because I can see there’s some problem with her, I was on video call to my mom at the time and she said it looks as if she had dementia, I just move her bags into my bin, but there a big drop between her house and mine and I’m scared she’s going to fall down it, she keeps walking out her house and she’s getting more aggressive, she had a go at my husband the other day when he walked passed her house, I don’t see anyone go in to help her except a lady once a week for 10 mins, I’d like to report it as I’m concerned for her wellbeing anyway I can report it online or anything, I live 2 mins from the entrance to a motorway and even closer to a lake so I’d hate for her to end up there one day because I never tried to get her the help she obviously needs

Hi Shannon,
Thanks for getting in touch.
This sounds like a difficult situation, but it's a good idea to seek support if you're concerned about your neighbour's well-being.
Contacting social services might be a good way to find out what kind of help is needed - your local council's website should explain how to do this.
If you'd like to speak to somebody about the situation first, please call our Dementia Connect support line on 0333 150 3456. A dementia adviser will be able to learn more about your neighour's behaviour and provide information, advice and support.
Hope this is helpful,
Alzheimer's Society blog team

Hi.

Like most people who have posted my neighbour has issues living on her own. Very forgetful, confused, anxious, reclusive and sometimes volatile but insists everything is okay. Her family dont want to know because she rejects them for interfering. Very challenging situation.

I live in a small block of flats. My neighbour is showing some signs of dementia. Forgetting the thread of conversations, she is making noise in her kitchen late at night and keeps leaving food on the has hob to burn. She lives alone and I am worried about her safety and the safety of others living in the flats. It’s a difficult situation, I’m concerned and want to support them but she is very sensitive and defensive if I try and approach the subject. I don’t know family members and I have some landlord responsibilities. What can I do to help? I don’t want them to feel like I have been talking behind there backs and other neighbours don’t seem to know what to do either. If I ignore some of the issues I am worried about what might happen.

Hi there, thanks for getting in touch.
If you speak with one of our dementia advisers on 0333 150 3456, they can listen to the situation with your neighbour. They're available seven days a week to provide advice, support and information about dementia. You can find opening hours for our Dementia Connect support line here: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/dementia-connect-support-line
In the meantime, we have advice on where to find support for a person with dementia who is living alone during the pandemic, which may be helpful: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/coronavirus-support-person-de…
Also, this page gives information for anyone who is concerned about someone else's memory: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-dementia/symptoms-and-diagnosis/how…
Wishing you all the best.
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Alzheimer's Society blog team

My neighbours husband has recently gone into a home due to dementia, she herself is a bit confused, managing to get shopping via her family. But I think she could do with some help especially due to the lockdown. Who would be best to contact?

Hi Maxine,
We recommend speaking with one of our dementia advisers on 0333 150 3456. They can listen to the situation with your neighbour, provide advice and support. Our advisers are available seven days a week. You can find opening hours for our Dementia Connect support line here: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/dementia-connect-support-line
In the meantime, we have advice on where to find support for a person with dementia who is living alone during the pandemic, which may be helpful: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/coronavirus-support-person-de…
All the best, Maxine.
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Alzheimer's Society blog team

My 89 year old neighbour I feel he needs some help, he blacks out a lot and we have to help him get up once he phoned us. He is bent over at 45 degrees angle and he still driving. We have spoken to him about getting some care, stopping driving etc but he insists he is okay
He has a daughter whom we had a meeting with but she just says her dad is strong minded and stubborn and she can’t do anything.
Just recently he was in bed ill for a week and if we had not gone into him he would of never of even had a drink !
It’s getting really worrying, he owns his own house and really don’t know what the next step is ??

A friends neighbour is suffering from Alzheimer’s.

He has become aware that people are stealing from her and charging her lots of money to clean her house

In addition they are saying that they now have a letter from the lady leaving their daughter her home

The police say there is nothing that can be done ?

I am very concerned about a neighbour . I believe she may have the start of dementia . She will not go to the doctors and obviously thinks nothing is wrong . Several neighbours have voiced concern and she has fallen out with most . I am really worried for her as some will take advantage by taking money off her for trips to shop etc . She is German and has a harsh manner but my partner has known her all his life and is also really worried . Her daughter in law has tried to get her to the doctors bit she has got nasty with her and refuses to even talk to her daughter in law now . Her son died some years ago now from cancer so she is alone . I want to help her but if she knows I have informed any authority then she will never talk to me again and to be honest she needs my partner and myself . We help her by making meals etc keeping an eye on her . But could really do with some advise on what I can do . Thank you

Hello Carla,
Thanks for getting in touch. We're sorry to hear you're going through such a worrying time with regards to your neighbour.
We recommend calling our National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 11 22 - our expert advisers can provide information, advice and support. https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/national-dementia-helpline
In the meantime, we recently wrote an article called 'How to offer help to someone with dementia who doesn’t want it' that you might find useful: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/blog/how-offer-help-someone-dementia-who-…
Similarly, this page gives information for anyone who is concerned about someone else's memory: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-dementia/symptoms-and-diagnosis/how…
We hope this helps, Carla.
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Alzheimer's Society blog team

Hi Carla,

I just tried to call the number & it doesn't connect.

Hi Em,

Are you still having problems?

Also, are you calling from the UK? We're a UK based charity, so you'd need to add +44 if you're calling from somewhere else.

Thanks,

Alzheimer's Society blog team

I have been keeping an eye on my neighbour for several months. She has dementia and very bad short term memory. She does have 30 mins care per day. 3 months ago she was reassessed by adult social services. No change was made with her care program. However I think her mental state had declined. The care provider could not send a representative to the assessment and so she represented herself, alone. This lady believes she is much more independent than reality suggests. I should know as I visit her a minimum of twice per day, provide meals on occasion and also take her shopping etc. No close relatives nearby and no regular visitors. Would it be in order to ask for another assessment, this time with myself or another person who knows her well present? She is not too frail yet but in my opinion her care could be much more suited to her needs. Thank you.

my neighbour has quite severe dementia ,. she has stopped washing , cannot find the food in the house . she thinks someone has stole the fridge . she keeps coming out of the house , leaving all the doors open and then she forgets where she lives. shes looking for her son who died 30 yrs ago . she has a daughter who calls once a week , but shes not bothered about her .. what can we do ?

hi Paul, I'm very sorry to hear about your neighbour . If you call our helpline one of our advisers would be glad to advise on this and put you in touch with local services.
Our Helpline is open Monday to Wednesday (9am-8pm), Thursday to Friday (9am–5pm) and Saturday to Sunday (10am-4pm), and can be reached on 0300 222 11 22.
Thanks

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