The strongest communities – towns/cities, organizations, families, etc. — tend to be those which members make a concerted effort to support those who are less fortunate. During this ongoing pandemic, helping others has become even more important – and logistically challenging.
Certain people in a community are more vulnerable to situations that affect their quality of life. As people age, many spend more time alone than they did when they were younger. That leaves them vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness. Such feelings can harm their health, contributing to depression, cognitive decline, and heart disease.
Volunteering to help older adults is a great way to give back and take your mind off your own challenges. Finding time can be tough even under normal circumstances, but here are some things you can do.
Thanks to the pandemic, many families are checking in with seniors by phone more frequently — maybe even daily. Video chats also have become more commonplace. But some older adults need a little help using unfamiliar technology. Asking the kids to assist gets them engaged and makes them feel useful – plus, they can probably coach Grams and Gramps better than their parents can. Such help doesn’t have to be limited to relatives. Neighbors, family friends, and others who might not have family nearby likely would appreciate the offer.
Helping seniors with financial tasks is another way to pitch in. Many seniors struggle to manage their finances under normal circumstances, as laws on taxes and investing are subject to routine changes. Adults who want to help but don’t know where to begin can do the legwork for their aging neighbors and family. Contact agencies such as AARP to determine if any financial assistance programs can help a senior. Look into age-specific perks, such as programs that can help seniors lower their energy costs.
Helping around the house is yet another idea. Seniors who reside in single-family homes might not be able to keep up with their routine home maintenance. Neighbors can offer to rake leaves, clean gutters, and shovel the snow that will inevitably fall. If you’re helping seniors this way, ask if they have had any suspicious phone calls. Unfortunately, scam artists use challenging times to take advantage of unsuspecting elders.
These days, we cannot even see if someone is smiling behind a mask. But, we can follow the advice of recently deceased songsmith John Prine and say “Hello In There” to those we meet – from a distance – and help them when we can.