You’re worried about your elderly neighbor. You don’t want to pry, but it’s hard not to wonder if he’s doing okay. Your Palos Verdes neighbor doesn’t leave his house as often as he once did. His once impeccable lawn is a bit neglected these days.

You feel awkward when you think about bringing all of this up in a conversation with him. Will he be offended? But you feel too anxious about his welfare to doing nothing. How can you help your elderly neighbor?

Never Offer Help in a Condescending Manner

It’s important to speak politely with your elderly neighbor and offer assistance in a dignified way. Introduce or reintroduce yourself.

Don’t start the conversation with, “Hey, your lawn looks awful these days. Can’t you just hire someone to do it?” Even if you’ve known each other for a while and have a rapport, this approach could seem rude and trigger frustration or anger.

Broach your concerns carefully. Hand him a note with your name and phone number, mentioning it’s a reminder that you’re nearby if he ever needs anything.

Even if you do approach the subject of help gently, your elderly neighbor may not accept it. He may feel ashamed or insulted — or he just doesn’t want to bother you. Don’t take his reaction personally.

Welfare Checks May Be Necessary for Your Elderly Neighbor

If you’ve been acquaintances for a while, you may have noticed that your neighbor’s mental and/or physical health has deteriorated. Even if you haven’t known each other for long, you may have observed concerning behaviors. (Did he have difficulty walking, slur his speech, or seemed utterly confused?)

Trust your gut. Don’t hesitate to call the police department or sheriff’s office for a welfare check.

Introduce Yourself to Family Members

If you happen to see family members stop by your neighbor’s Palos Verdes home, flag them down politely and introduce yourself. Again, don’t gossip and compromise your neighbor’s dignity. Politely say, “Hey. I’m the neighbor. I usually see your dad taking the dog outside several times a day. Lately, I barely see him. Is he doing okay? I’m just next door if I can do anything.”

Give the family member your phone number. Ask for a phone number in case future issues arise. Usually, family will be appreciative that you’re looking out for their loved one.

Lend an Ear — and a Meal

Your elderly neighbor may need help preparing regular meals. Conditions like arthritis, dementia, or brain fog may make it harder for him to open food packaging or follow a recipe. Perhaps he doesn’t feel comfortable driving anymore, or he may be having trouble paying for gas and groceries.

Programs like Meals on Wheels may help your neighbor stay satiated and healthy. You and other neighbors can make a plan to bring extra meal portions over to his place on a regular basis. Your neighbor may also love the chance to get to eat and chat with you.

Suggest Available Community Services

While your help is invaluable, don’t burn yourself out. You can certainly try to offer help to your neighbor. But your elderly neighbor isn’t solely your responsibility.

The California Department of Aging office offers a plethora of information and phone numbers for assisting the elderly.

Your elderly neighbor and their family members may also be interested in learning about our services at A Peaceful Way Home Care. Most seniors want to age in place. So, we provide non-medical, in-home services for older adults (e.g., house cleaning, dispensing of medication, and rides to medical appointments).

Call us for a free, in-home assessment at (310) 377-3776.