“I have an elderly neighbor who I am concerned is putting herself in danger. I’ve tried calling her family, but so far I haven’t been able reach them. What can I do to make sure she is safe?”

-Anissa S. (33), resident, Cedar Rapids, IA


If you are concerned about your neighbor’s safety and wellbeing, you should contact your state or county’s Adult Protective Services program (APS). APS is a social services program that provides support for abused, neglected, or exploited older adults and adults with significant disabilities. APS receives and investigates reports regarding adults who are unable to meet their own needs. Following an investigation, APS will take appropriate action to protect and support the individual, which may involve collaborating with law enforcement, securing emergency medical care, initiating legal proceedings, or arranging for alternative living arrangements if necessary.

In the meantime, keep an eye on your neighbor and monitor for distressing behavior. If you haven’t already, try to establish a friendly rapport. Building trust can help facilitate communication and make her more likely to accept assistance or support. Reach out to your other neighbors and see if they have any information about your elderly neighbor’s situation.

Most importantly, if you observe any immediate signs of danger, call 911 before intervening yourself.

It’s important to respect your neighbor’s privacy and autonomy. If she’s capable of making decisions for herself, ensure you communicate your concerns in a respectful and non-intrusive manner. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure her safety while also respecting her independence and dignity.


  • Call your region’s Adult Protective Services program for assistance, evaluation and support.
  • Monitor your neighbor’s wellbeing and establish a friendly relationship.
  • Call 911 in the event of an emergency.