Your elderly neighbors have had a particularly challenging year. Older people often struggle to access services, carry out basic chores, and maintain their social lives. On top of that, COVID-19 hit them the hardest, especially those with pre-existing conditions. It forced them to stay at home and made it even more difficult to accomplish day-to-day tasks.
Your help can make a massive difference to elderly neighbors who find it difficult to get out and about. If you want to help your elderly neighbors, but you’re not sure how we hope our list of practical tasks will inspire you.
Do Their Grocery Shopping
Grocery shopping is a particular challenge for elderly people with mobility issues. Everyone needs to eat, but walking or driving to the store isn’t always a simple proposition for people with mobility limitations or other disabilities.
In an ideal world, elderly people would be able to rely on their family for this type of chore, but the evidence shows that an increasing number of elderly people are “getting older without family.” And, of course, going to the store increases the risk of picking up a coronavirus infection. If you can find the time to deliver even just the basics, it will be a huge help.
Pick Up Their Medication
Picking up medication can be a little more complicated than getting groceries. Pharmacies may require written permission or a phone call to verify that you’re authorized to collect medicines on behalf of someone else. Nevertheless, medication is essential to many older people’s health, and they may neglect to get it themselves if they’re worried about going out.
Walk Their Dog
As a general rule, older people should walk their own pets. It’s an excellent motivation to get out of the house and exercise. However, if they are temporarily or permanently unable to take their pet for its daily activity, you’ll be doing them and the dog a favor by taking it for a walk. Plus, it’s good exercise for you too.
Offer Them Company and Social Interaction
Social isolation and loneliness are among the most unbearable aspects of growing old. When people lose contact with their friends, their health often declines significantly. The CDC links social isolation to an increased risk of premature death, a 50% increased risk of dementia, and higher depression, anxiety, and heart failure rates.
In the current climate, you may not be able to visit your neighbors for a coffee and a chat, but you can call them, talk to them outside, and maintain friendly social relations to keep them connected to the local community.
Drive Them to Healthcare Appointments
Every year, hundreds of thousands of elderly Americans decide to stop driving, often because they notice that their eyes, bodies, and brains aren’t functioning as well as they used to. But giving up their car doesn’t remove the need to travel, especially to medical appointments.
As with medication, your older neighbor might decide not to go to an appointment with their doctor or other medical professionals because it’s too much of a struggle to get out of the house, use public transport, and walk an unpredictable distance. Your help in driving them to appointments can make a big difference to their health.
Bring Them a Hot Meal
Perhaps the easiest of our suggestions: if you’re cooking a meal for your family, set some aside and take it over to your elderly neighbor. Unfortunately, many elderly people do not eat a healthy diet because they find it physically and financially difficult to prepare balanced and nutritious meals.
Help Them With Technology
It’s a stereotype that older people aren’t good with technology, and I know several people in their 80s who can easily outmaneuver me on their iPad. However, an increasing number of government and corporate services have moved online, and many older people find it challenging to access financial, insurance, and medical services, among others.
We’ve offered seven suggestions for how you can help your elderly neighbors, but the most important thing you can do is get to know the people around you, especially your older neighbors. Most people won’t ask strangers for help, and neighbors who need help are far more likely to ask if they already know you.