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How to help but not intrude?

Recently my neighbor has been taken by an ambulance. We talked to him today and it appeared he had an epilepsy seizure and swollen brain. He was released after a week in hospital. He really looks bad and without thinking I offered we could do some shopping for him if he needs anything. But then I went home and started to think. I'd like to help and I was wondering how this would be seen here if I brought him a meal. I don't want to offend anyone but he seems to be alone. It seems he could have drinking problem but I don't want to judge or overstep. I would like to be helpful as I know how it to be ill and tired. Can you guys advise me? Would it be taken badly to bring someone some meal? It is just a neighbor, I talked to him once but my husband did few times. I just can't stand the feeling that someone in the flat below struggles and we don't do anything. Any suggestions?

5 Replies

Hi Iwona,

Take him something simple and see how he reacts. Personally I would love someone to bring me a meal if I was ill but some elderly people like to think they can manage on their own (when they really can't). If you just take him a pie or a cake you can see if he is really touched in which case you could perhaps take the odd meal. Maybe you could help if he wants some shopping, by picking up some ready meals for him.

However, if he is a drinker, he might not bother with food, some alcoholics don't - all they are interested in is their next drink. my neighbour was like that and we gave up trying to help him eventually - there are some people you just can't help.

I think English people are like Polish people, some like to keep to themselves, others welcome a bit of support and friendship.

Play it by ear.




Lovely idea to do that for him ..... I wonder if it might be worth inviting him for a cup of tea at your flat and then sending him home with "a pie" "dinner for later" or something rather than just turning up with something ready made ? I know I wouldn't say no to a meal being brought round anytime - ill or not ..... but this way its a small "outing" for him too ?

Hope it goes ok whatever you decide :-)


When a neighbour of mine was grieving after his wife died, he made it clear he didn't want to see or talk to anyone. So I regularly cooked extra at dinnertime then pushed a note through his door leaving a meal, on a foil plate and insulated in foil wrapping, inside his porch.

I was upfront that it was from me and that it was my way of letting him know that I and others were thinking of him. I also included my telephone no. in case he needed anything. He's fine now and looks after himself very well.

It's always a risk to offer help when you're unsure of how it will be interpreted, but what a harsh world it would be if everyone was too fearful to offer a helpling hand to someone in need.

Why not go to your neighbour Iwona, and tell him it would ease your mind if he would allow you to cook a little extra now and again, and share it with him until he's feeling better ?................... xx


Hi Iwona,

It is kind of you to think of this.

I put in a vote on the side of going ahead and making something and giving it to him. When people are grieving or sick many people ask if there is something that they can do. The afflicted person has no idea what those people are really interested in doing or if they are just saying that out of politeness. In addition, nobody likes to ask for help. By being proactive you can use his response to evaluate the value of doing the favor again.

Inviting him over is a nice idea. It may be appreciated or may feel like too much for him to take on in his condition. I'd start with the delivering food option which requires the least effort from him and move on from there based on the response you get.

In any case, your kindness will reverberate in the world.

1 like

I too think that would be a nice thing to do. We live in a small village where people look out for each other and it's lovely. If by any chance he doesn't react well, it certainly wouldn't be your fault. There are too many places where neighbours don't know each other, so good on you for thinking of him.

Sue x


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