Do you have a senior citizen in your neighborhood who needs a little bit of extra help? If so, please reach out to them.
During this time of social distancing, your neighbors might feel depressed, alone, or overwhelmed. This case is particularly true if you never notice their children, grandkids, or friends visiting them. Perhaps their children are front-line workers who don’t want to inadvertently transmit COVID to mom or dad. Or, maybe their grandchildren live hours and hours away in a “hot zone.”
I got to thinking a lot about this lately. I have a neighbor in her upper-eighties. She could barely walk to retrieve her mail each day. She needs a knee replacement, but after her surgery will recover at a nursing home for four weeks. Unfortunately, that same facility has been ground zero for a COVID-19 outbreak, with several resulting deaths.
She reached out to me for help, unable to get down her porch steps without pain. Of course, I am glad to help her out as needed. In fact, I was a little embarrassed that it had not occurred to me to offer up the assistance! So now, I check on her daily, get her mail, and even pick up cereal and milk when I head to the store.
I got to thinking about other ways we can all help a senior citizen out during these days. Here are my ideas…
15 Ways to Help a Senior Citizen During COVID-19
Here are fifteen easy things you can do to make life easier for a senior citizen.
1 – Pick up their mail, and take their outgoing mail to their box
As previously mentioned, my senior citizen neighbor cannot make it up and down her couple of porch steps. A trip and fall could mean a trip to the emergency room. This literally takes only a few seconds out of the day.
2 – Take a senior citizen a plate of food
Did you cook up a large pot of your favorite family recipe? Pack up a plate of food in a disposable container. Carry the meal to your neighbor with reheating instructions. Undoubtedly, the recipient will appreciate this kind gesture.
3 – Invite your neighbor over for an outdoor picnic on the patio
Are you confident that you’re COVID-19 negative? If so, invite your neighbor over to enjoy brunch or lunch, served outdoors on your patio next weekend. Staying out-of-doors helps to mitigate the risk of COVID-19, and you can set up seating with six-foot spacing. Your older friend will enjoy the human interaction with less risk.
Of course, if you are not sure you are negative for this nasty virus, pass on this idea.
4 – Help your senior citizen neighbor to spruce up the yard
Even if your senior citizen can ride a lawnmower to keep their grass cut, they might be unable to do more burdensome chores. Do you see that their patio furniture is covered in mildew, the bushes or trees overtook the windows, or their fence now sports peeling paint? Surprise them with the gift of a little bit of elbow grease.
They probably do know these things need to get checked off a list but are embarrassed to ask.
5 – Drive them to worship
Again, this can be somewhat tricky during COVID-19. But if you are comfortable with the idea, drive your senior citizen to worship on the weekend. Many miss their “church family” right now, and as churches re-open around the nation, they are an excellent way for a senior citizen to reconnect spiritually. And that is food for the soul.
Churches still closed in your state? You’re not 100% confident that are negative for the virus? Find your local tv and radio stations carrying worship services—write them down on an index card for your neighbor so they can enjoy them from the safety of home.
6 – Offer to pick up groceries
Do you head to the store occasionally? While you might order in groceries from online retailers, your senior citizen neighbor might not know how—or even have an internet connection.
My neighbor called me one day, sheepishly asking if I’d mind picking up a few groceries one day. She was down to her last squares of ever-elusive toilet paper. She had already run out of milk and cereal.
However, she was too scared of the virus to leave her home. You are a beautiful person—you’d feel terrible if you learned that an elderly person was doing without because they had no way to shop safely. So pick up the phone and make that offer the next time you toddle off for a grocery run.
7 – Pick up the phone and check on a senior citizen
Every now and then, pick up the phone and check on a senior citizen you know. Remember, many are widowed, socially isolated from their children at this time, and have not seen their friends for several months now. Your phone call reminds them that someone does treasure them.
8 – Send out a holiday or birthday card
Do you know your neighbor’s birthday? Stick a birthday card in their door (or with the mail you might be retrieving for them). It will make their day!
9 – Check on their well-being every day
If a senior citizen near you is especially frail, do a wellness check every day. They might not have nearby friends or relatives to assist them with this. Heaven forbid they fall and cannot get to a phone for help!
Here is a cute idea that’s non-invasive to your senior friend.
Cut out a bright-colored paper heart shape. Punch a hole at the top of the cut-out. Have your senior citizen stick a suction cup hook inside the glass of their window. Ask them to put the heart up each morning and take it down each evening to signal to you that all is well.
If this is a long-time neighbor whom you know very well, you might even offer to keep a spare key at your house, just in case.
10 – Write down their children’s phone numbers
Perhaps you know your neighbor’s adult children—and maybe even their grandchildren—by name. But do you know how to reach out to them in case of an emergency?
Get contact data for your neighbor’s family members. You’ll know how to reach them if an emergency does occur.
11 – Help your senior citizen neighbors find local resources
Many senior citizens face food shortages, tight finances, and other challenges. In some cases, they don’t have a family to rely on for guidance. If your neighbor mentions these concerns to you, gently prod to find out if they need assistance. Help them locate free and low-cost resources in your community. From food banks to meal delivery programs to senior fitness classes, almost all towns have special programs for the elderly.
12 – Take your pet to visit your neighbor
Does your neighbor discuss fond memories of her pet? Many senior citizens love pets but can no longer take care of their own. Take your dog (or cat) over for them to play with or cuddle for a few minutes. Pets are therapeutic!
As with several other suggestions, be sure to socially distance and sit outside on the porch as you visit.
13 – Ask them to share a story about their childhood
Senior citizens love to tell stories about their childhood memories. Not only is this great for their cognition, but it also provides them a sense of well-being to know that you care enough to ask.
14 – Pray with them
Regardless of the faith of your neighbor, offer to pray with them. Remember that they probably cannot attend worship services in-person during these trying times. They may feel flagging faith as a result of being cut off from their church. Pray takes only a few moments and works wonders.
15 – Offer a library excursion
Even if your senior citizen friend cannot leave home due to the virus, you can bring library materials back to them. Many libraries are re-opened. From books to magazines to audio recordings, do not forget that your local library is a valuable resource!
Hit the books with some aerosol disinfecting spray, then wash your hands after handling them! Be sure to keep up with the dates the media must be returned (in case it slips your friend’s mind).
The Takeaway: Your Neighborhood Senior Citizen Might Need Your Help During the Pandemic
Our senior citizens face the most considerable risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many feel afraid, lonely, and disheartened by social distancing. Treat your elderly neighbors the same way you hope your parents’ or grandparents’ neighbors are treating them during this uncertain time. A little kindness can go a really long way.