Concerned about an elderly neighbor
March 17, 2014 4:24 PM Subscribe
What should I do about/for my elderly, possibly senile neighbor? I am concerned for her safety. Special snowflake details inside.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I live in a Co-Op apartment building in New York City. Across the hall is a studio apartment that houses three elderly people, a woman and two men. I believe the woman to be the wife of one of the men. Until last year I had not seen the woman until an incident in which I witnessed her waiting in the vestibule of the building for hours at a time. When I confronted her, thinking she was a stranger, I asked who she was waiting for. She refused to tell me, claiming it was "illegal". After a very strange conversation in which she refused to tell me her name, where she lived, or who she was waiting for, I told her that she could not stay in the vestibule, but that I would be happy to help her get in touch with someone. At that point she produced a key, opened the door to the lobby, and went upstairs to her apartment. She came off to me as either senile, terrified of outsiders, or some combination of both.
More recently, there was an incident in which the police came to the building asking if anyone knew her, what apartment she lived in, etc... It turns out that she had wound up in the hospital with no identification, and unable or unwilling to tell the authorities who she was and where she lived. More importantly, no one had reported her missing. Somehow the police had tracked her to our address. They were concerned that her roommates had passed away and that that was why she had not been reported missing, but this was not the case. After this incident we did see people from the city come by to check on them once or twice, but nothing for a while.
Since then, she has begun appearing more disheveled, wearing plastic bags on her head and feet, and smelling almost unbearably bad. There is also an odor coming from the apartment. I have seen the woman exiting the apartment as if she is trying to sneak out, closing the door very softly behind her. She then sits in the lobby or vestibule for extended periods of time. When I see her do this, I have been knocking on the door to the apartment and alerting her roommates, who only answer the door reluctantly. I think that they usually go get her when I do this.
My concern is twofold. Primarily, I am worried that she will wander off again and that something terrible will happen to her. I am also concerned for the general health, cleanliness, and condition of her, her roommates, and her apartment.
What should I do as a responsible neighbor?