Thoughtful people can give back to their communities in various ways. Coaching youth sports, volunteering for local charities, and donating to local food or clothing drives are just a few things we can do to help make our community a better place.
Another way to give back is by helping elderly neighbors who might not be as independent as they once were. Your neighbors could have physical limitations that compromise their ability to perform everyday tasks, those small parts of daily living that younger people often take for granted. And while a kind gesture might seem insignificant, it can have a profound impact on an older person’s life.
While the coronavirus pandemic might change how we reach out right now, here are some ways to do it:
• Ask if a neighbor needs anything from the grocery store. Everyone forgets to buy something at the store from time to time. It’s a minor inconvenience to most people, but it can have a much more significant impact on elderly people with mobility issues. Before going grocery shopping, make it a habit to call an elderly neighbor and ask if he or she needs anything.
• When health conditions improve, invite seniors over for dinner or other gatherings. Many older adults deal with social isolation because they lack opportunities to interact with other people. Recent data from the Administration on Aging indicates that 35% of women older than 65 are widows, and almost half of women ages 75 and older live alone. Inviting older neighbors who live alone over for dinners, movie nights or game-watching parties provides important social interaction and gives them something to look forward to.
• Help with weekly chores. Seniors living on fixed incomes might find it difficult to maintain their homes. Tasks such as mowing the lawn, taking out the garbage and even vacuuming can be challenging for seniors with physical limitations. Pitching in to help with such chores once or twice a week won’t require much time and will improve the quality of life for your neighbors.
• Drive seniors to religious services when it is safe to do so. Attending services is important to many seniors, but those who can no longer drive themselves might not attend as much as they would like. Whether you attend such services or not, offer to drive an elderly neighbor on Sunday mornings (or whenever weekly services are held). Religious services help seniors stay connected to their faith and their faith communities, and providing transportation once a week won’t require a significant commitment of your time.
Helping your elderly neighbors is a simple, thoughtful way to give back to your community.