My mom and I have lived next door to an elderly couple for about 3 years now. Over time, I've seen the woman doing a number of things suggesting to me that she is probably experiencing auditory hallucinations and perhaps some kind of paranoia, or other delusional thought process, or highly unusual thought process at least. She and her husband both seem to be somewhat unusual and mainly keep to themselves, though very rarely now and then have conversations with another neighbor on the street, and every once in awhile I've seen a couple people visiting them who seem to be family. It's often unclear to me if both husband and wife are engaging in some of the odd behaviors together (all of this is stuff happening on the street/sidewalk by the way), but more frequently I just see the woman doing this (though I think both spend most of the day at home).
What's prompting my concern is just that the woman seems to be doing these things that seem odd more and more frequently. The behaviors change with time but at present she is going around over and over to the same locations on the street and staring very intently at particularly things for quite some time, sometimes speaking softly and tersely on and off, and will do this for quite a long time (over and hour or more) on most occasions, and repeatedly throughout the day and into the evening, on most days. I haven't seen her go into anyone's yard but she does go right up to stare at things. Some times maybe taking pictures.
As far as other possibly relevant indicators, their house has significantly unkempt foliage of all kinds in front and back (like to the point of appearing quite chaotic with a fairly unusable backyard) but not unsafe per se. They are always timely with bring trash, recycling, and compost bins to the curb and back each week. Very rarely I see the man driving their car.
It's really mainly the increasing frequency and amount of time spent on the behavior that's worrying me. It's easily apparent so that if I have anyone over they almost always ask about it at some point. My mom is worried too and has experience in a mental health triage setting (I have some experience around clinical social work).
Basically I don't see any signs suggesting abuse or self neglect, and I have no idea anything about my neighbors aside from observations. We had a brief conversation once, prompted in fact by something I was doing at the time which understandably might have appeared quite odd (sprinkling diatomaceous earth to prevent pests around our building on advice from a professional), which is also to say, I definitely don't want to put myself in a position of presuming to define odd vs normal behavior. I want to respect their privacy & dignity as individuals & as a family. I definitely don't want to cause unnecessary intervention into their lives. I also don't want to sit idly by while someone's mental state deteriorates to an unsafe condition if there are clear signs (now or in the future) that show a line is being crossed.
I'm not asking anyone to assume the role of expert but just wondering if anyone can share some advice, broadly speaking. I wish I had the sort of neighborly relationship where it wouldn't be abrupt to suddenly go over and check on how they're doing, but that's not the case. However if it seems warranted I would want to figure out how to go about doing this. The easiest advice to receive is basically stop overreacting and mind my own business, but I just wanted to try to reach out somewhere and ask.
Thank you, I welcome thoughts and questions, I apologize for not providing a more concise question.
The police ended up calling me (who had just been there all day, for heaven's sake), but after feeling a little bent about the unnecessary intrusion, I was glad that some busybody had called, because it led to some conversations with my folks about their general safety at home. Mom was in the earlier stages of dementia, and while Dad was perfectly healthy, he was nonetheless in his late 80s and not exactly Superman any longer. As it happened, Dad passed away less than a year later, much to our dismay, and I had to take over Mom's care.
For the record, we never found out who made the call, though we have our suspicions. (I'm looking at you, Doris!) However, when all was said and done, the police ended up with the contact information of my parents' kids, and that was a very good thing.
If this were a potential client, and a neighbor reported her to you, what action would you take?
You could keep an informal journal of observations. That way if there really is a significant uptick whether in frequency or severity or risk to anyone you'll spot it early. And keep the door open to communication in the hope that she'll gradually come to see you as someone trustworthy she can turn to.
I wouldn’t call the police or APS just yet. She isn’t hurting anyone. Befriend her. She probably would like to have someone to talk to.
It is okay to reach out and meet your neighbors.
I am sure that they would appreciate any effort to be kind. This is the only way to know if all is well. My elderly neighbors all know that they can call us or ring our doorbell if they have a need. Be the kind neighbors that they know they can reach out to in an emergency.
I hope that the professional told you that you have to reapply the DE if it gets wet.
Yeah, like at the moment I'd have to put it out there every day, if it isn't downpouring that day! I'd forgotten I have bags of this until reading this - if it ever stops raining here (can we ship it back to the west coast for a while!!?!?!?!?), I need to get it out there... I keep the cat food bowls off the floor because of ants and until this year was successful, but they've found it!
Now, if it will stop raining...
As for the neighbors, maybe bringing a nice treat to them can open up a neighborly relationship, at least enough to see if their living is "safe." Sounds like maybe the gent is "okay" and the wife has some delusions?
I think a wellness check is not out of order, seeing that the woman may be off her medications or in need of having some prescribed.
They're your neighbors! Go over, introduce yourself, and ask if everything is all right!
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