Saturday, 1 August 2009

Being Good Neighbours

Whew, what a morning we have had. We were alerted that something was not right by Jack continually barking which is not like him.

I went to the front door only to hear someone calling out our next-door-neighbour's name. It was his gardener who cuts his lawn for him and generally does some tidying up. Thinking that was all it was, I closed the door and came back into the house.

A few minutes later, the gardener knocked on our front door. He said he could be mistaken but he was sure he had heard our neighbour, Charlie, saying he could not get up.

Now, when Charlie was having all his hip surgery before and could not cope, the social services fitted a key box to the outside of his door. The box contained the key to the house and a special code had to be punched in in order to retrieve the key. Social services asked Mike if he would be the key holder so to speak and when Mike agreed, they gave him the code number.

All was well for several months and Mike did all his shopping and got his papers each day using the key and also had to enter twice, once when Charlie had a fall and once when he got stuck in the toilet and trapped.

Then he seemed to make a good recovery, Charlie said he no longer needed help and all was quiet. The box remained though, just as a precaution.

As soon as the gardener voiced his worries to Mike, Mike sped around there and punched in the code for the box - no key inside. No windows open, all the house secure - absolutely no way in.

The gardener left and Mike came back. We had the mobile number of Charlie's son although we knew that for personal reasons between himself and his father, he did not have a key. But, we thought at least he could contact one of his sisters who both live some way away. There was no answer on the mobile.

Mike went back and yelled and yelled at the windows, through the letterbox, banged as hard as he could. Nothing, no sound. I decided that the only thing to do was call the Police.

I dialled our local station, after taking a few details they put me through to the right department who were extremely helpful and said they would send someone as soon as possible. Ten minutes later a police car drew up. Mike met them. They tried all the things he had done to no avail. To break into the premises they had to get permission from a higher authority and that was about ten minutes coming through.

Then the police officer got a crowbar from the rear of his car and proceeded to force open the front door. By this time another police car had arrived and naturally, passing vehicles were slowing down to see what was going on and passers-by were staring. I was also worried in case it was a false alarm and we had put in an emergency call for nothing. My heart was racing I can tell you.

Charlie had taken a fall. The police immediately sent for an ambulance. In the meantime a paramedic had arrived in a car. Our little lane was getting quite crowded. Whilst Mike was comforting Charlie and helping the police, I was talking to a police officer and one of the paramedics who wanted to know as much about him as possible. By now there were two police cars, one paramedic car and an ambulance.

I explained that we used to have entry but not any longer, that he had no carers going in and the family came down rarely. They asked me if he had any previous falls and I had to tell them what I have told you above. He has also become very confused lately and is obviously suffering from Alzheimer's disease or some other form of dementia.

After notifying his family and thanking us for being good neighbours and telling us we had done exactly the right thing, the police all left. The paramedics were marvellous. They decided he was going off to the hospital for a complete check over. It was obvious when they tried to get him into the ambulance that he was very confused. He refused a wheelchair or stretcher and wanted to get in himself, but he could not cope with the steps and when they put the ramp down, he did not seem to know what to do, instead of heading into the ambulance, he turned back towards the house. They were very patient with him, so kind. But they gave us their opinion that, in the state he is in, he should not now be living there on his own.

We had to agree but then the decision is not ours. That is up to himself and his family. It was a big worry. We did not know whether the police would find a body when they went inside.

Mike spoke to his daughter on the phone as the police found the number after they had entered. She will be going straight to the hospital and has said she will let us know how he is. She thanked Mike for what he had done and then proceeded to apologise to him. Apparently Charlie has been running us down left, right and centre, saying what dreadful neighbours we are and all manner of other nasty things about us. Mike was very hurt when he told me. He has been so good to Charlie, much better than his own family have been. I was initially hurt but then pointed out to Mike that this was another indication of Alzheimer's. I went through some of this with my own dear father.

The whole incident from start to finish took over two hours and both of us our shattered. Still, we have done what we needed to do, we have been good neighbours. Now we both need a cup of tea and a rest.


  1. are very good neighbours..poor Charlie....

  2. You did absolutely the right thing, and can understand it is upsetting for all involved. Hope Charlie makes a full recovery, but appreciate changes may be necessary his end.

  3. you did a good thing jeannette.wish more were like you and mike take care,love mort xxx

  4. You and Mike have been wonderful neighbors. Don't pay attention to what the neighbor said about being bad neighbors. It's the Alzheimer's talking. I hope Charlie gets the help he needs now. Linda

  5. My my what an episode. Thank goodness is all I can say for good neighbours. As you said to Mike he really shouldn't take any notice of the way he has run you down, we have had the same thing with my nephew in law after the death pf my dearest beloved niece...he has run us all down to all the neighbours and does not want anyting to do with any of us. It is so hurtful, but with him the excuse is drink,,,
    Anyway hope you have a restful afternoon and enjoyed your cuppa. It is very wet here this morning I am keeping fingers crossed it might ease of by later today..
    Take Care
    Much Love Sybil xx

  6. I am glad you were able to get in. Yes, they do get that way sometimes. Your good neighbors.

  7. Thankgoodness for neighbours like you ,and Mike shouldnt get upset ,that as you say is so typical of an Atzhiemers sufferer ,Iknow just how you felt ,as a manager of a sheltered scheme I would get call outs like that and wonder what I would discover ,and not all the out come you had with Charlie unfortunately ,thank goodness he was ok ,but for your actions it could have been a different story...Bless you both Jan xx

  8. What good neighbours you are! This nastiness that Charlie has been exhibiting is a sympton/side affect of dementia. My mother-in-law is recently on the receiving end of this behavious from one of her closest neighbours. They have lived opposite each other for at least 40 years and now she has turned very nasty towards her. Her husband keeps apologising for his wife's behaviour and it is upsetting so I can understand Mike feeling so hurt. Poor Charlie though, won't be aware of any of it. Thank goodness you persevered though, otherwise it could have had a different outcome. Eileen x

  9. I am glad that the police were able to get in. You two did the right thing. Good for you for being good neighbors. I remember when you told how good Mike was to him.
    Hugs, Helen

  10. charlie was so blessed to have mike & you as neighbors.
    i hope he gets the proper care now.
    also, hope mike is not offended by anything charlie may have said about him, as that is part of the disease. my beloved mother went thru it too.
    have a good wkend.

  11. Bless you for helping your neighbor, Jeannette. I was worried, as I was reading, if there was going to be a dead body as well. I pray Charlie has proper help from now on. It is so dangerous to live alone with Alzheimers. God bless you, Jeannette. Have a good rest of the weekend. Love, Val xox

  12. Let's hope that Charlie gets the proper care he needs now following this latest incident. I bet everyone was wondering what was going on in a normally very quiet street! Love B x

  13. Thank God Charlie has you as neighbours ~ I do hope now he gets the help he needs ~ Hope the rest of your weekend is a nice peaceful one ~ Ally x

  14. What a day you have had wondered what was up had not been in journals today been doing other things Guido directed me here when I left a comment on
    Twitter for you. I remember the incident that happened last time with your neighbour. Tell Mike not to take his words to heart my dear Mum was the same with us it's a dreadful thing as hyou will know. Take care Love Joan

  15. Thank goodness you were there for Charlie. Good neighbors indeed, and everyone who knows you knows that. Charlie's family is probably staying away because of his dementia-induced nastiness. What a tragedy. Linda in DC

  16. Special thoughts for your neighbor... and so glad you and Mike were there to help and Jack too... :)

  17. Gee I'm so very sorry that this happened to your neighbor! I join everyone in commending you two! You are awesome people to care about your family and the neighbors! God Bless you!

  18. i would be honored to have you 2 as my neighbors. and yes, it does sound like a symptom of dementia, or alzheimers. i hope his family will take him in and take care of him till he is called home.

    i also enjoyed the pictures of the boys from the previous post. they are growing like weeds.

    hugs all around,


  19. Charlie is very lucky to have you two as neighbours. Mike has been so good to him, tell him not to take those comments to heart.

  20. That's an amazing story. The moral is sometimes you have to feed the face that bites you.


  21. Thank the dear Lord that you are good neighbors and are caring enough to do the right thing. It is so sad when things like that happen. You know not being in his right mind he didn't really mean what was said. It must have been terrifying. Older people that are not in good health to begin with should have someone checking in on them regularly. God bless you for being such a good neighbor.
    'On Ya'-ma

  22. Gllad you guys did what you had to d to get him safe.His confusion will only make living alone dangerous for him amd others,I dont see himbeing released with out amental check.They have programs where the state pays for a home care provider to come and help out.If you like more in on in just email ne Andtell you more about it.God Bless you all.And tell Mike stay strong for Charlie he's going to need it

  23. Its nice to see that theres such good neighbours around like yourselves,Jeanette,yourself and Mike have done a really good deed and if it was'nt for the gardener and yourselves,who knows what would have become of Charlie.Lets hope Charlie gets better care from now...Best wishes to yourself and Mike.

  24. Charlie and his family are indeed blessed to have you and Mike for his neighbors. Know when Mike heard what Charlie said, he had to feel bad about that, but I hope Mike realized it's his dementia causing the confusion, words, etc. and not the Charlie you all know and care for. Our family has a similar situation going on so I truly under-stand; it's sad to see someone you care about go through this, but you and Mike caring will hopefully get Charlie the care he now needs.

  25. Thank goodness it was you and Mike that were Charlies neighbours ,people who are so kind and caring ,others perhaps who wouldn't want to get involved.My Nephew Rob has just trained as a paramedic,the work they do is wonderful .Hope all goes well for Charlie .
    Love Jeanxx

  26. You are indeed fabulous neighbors...Charlie is lucky to have such caring people looking after him. What a shame, if he does return home I would think there must be a key in that box from this point on.


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