As our population ages, an increasing number of seniors are living alone or with another senior. If you have elderly neighbors, you may be wondering if there’s something you can do to help. Absolutely, the elderly often have illnesses or impairments that make doing everyday tasks difficult.
Here are some suggestions of ways you can make their lives easier.
Offer to Run Errands with Them or Take Them to the Doctor
If you’re going to the store anyway, why not ask your neighbor along, or see if you can pick something up for him? He may also need a ride to the drug store or for a doctor’s visit. You don’t have to go out of your way, just do what your schedule permits.
Offer to Help Out with Their Pets
It’s a well known fact that people who own pets live longer. Many of the elderly, who live alone, have pets whose company is instrumental to their well being, but it may be difficult for some seniors to do much more than feed their furry companions.
If your neighbor has a cat, offer to clean out the litter box. Birds need fresh paper in their cages. Offer to take a dog for a walk or give it a bath. You might even offer to take the animal to the vet for routine care or for treatment in an emergency.
Help Them Find Elder Care Services
There’re a lot more services available for the elderly than most people realize. If you notice your neighbor has little food in the house or seems unable to cook for himself, contact Meals on Wheels. Their website has a locator that will give you information on the programs in your area. Normally, Meals on Wheels delivers one balanced meal a day to qualifying seniors. They also provide meals for people with special dietary restriction.
Contact your state’s Department of Aging and Disability Services. They can help connect you with elder care services, and get financial assistance for your neighbor if he qualifies.
If your neighbor is terminally ill, you may want to contact your local Hospice Center. They usually have social workers on staff who will help the patient find the services he needs.
Assist with Cleaning or Food Prep
If your neighbor has health concerns or mobility issues, some cleaning tasks may be difficult to impossible for him.
Make sure he knows you well enough that he will be comfortable having you work in his home before you offer to cook or clean. Also, ask about dietary restrictions before cooking or bringing food over.
Make Contact with His Family
If at all possible, try to touch base with a child, sibling or other family member. It may be helpful for them to know how your neighbor is doing from your perspective, what he needs, and what you are already doing for him. They may also want to coordinate visits with you, to ensure someone’s checking on him regularly.
Just Take a Few Minutes to Chat
The most important thing you can do for an elderly neighbor is to provide companionship. Even if you only have a few minutes, time spent with a homebound senior can be a treat for both of you. You may be surprised at how much you enjoy his stories about growing up and living life in another time.
He’ll be reassured that someone cares and is interested in how he’s doing.
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