We all choose to give back to our communities in slightly different ways. Some people make time for volunteering, others choose to sit on the PTA of their children’s schools, while others like to get involved in charity bake sales or sponsored races. Giving back is a way of making a positive impact on the world and getting a genuine feel-good buzz at the same time. One method of caring for our local community which is becoming increasingly important is looking after our elders. With more and more seniors living on into their golden years thanks to advances in medical care, some with complex health needs, there is a lot of loneliness and isolation going largely unseen behind closed doors. Our elders can be all but invisible unless they are family members, but in fact there is a large population of older people around us who could really use our help. Deciding to dedicate some time can be a hugely rewarding decision. The seniors in our community have so much to give in terms of wisdom, warmth and experience, and becoming more supportive of someone who is a neighbour can lead to a beautiful friendship. So how can you best support an elder community member?
Help With Shopping
The simple, everyday tasks that we take for granted in our prime become a lot more difficult when you’re elderly, slower than you used to be, perhaps with health complications and maybe issues accessing transport. So a little help with getting the essentials could be very much appreciated. Of course, it depends on the needs of the individual. Some seniors would be very grateful for you to help set them up with an online grocery order which can get delivered to their residence. Others may appreciate it more if you took the time to go on a shopping expedition together. Many fiercely value their independence, and getting to make their own weekly choices about groceries and such can be an important part of that. Either way, just have a word and see if there is an option they’d prefer
Assistance With Medical Appointments
One thing most elders have is a whole lot of medical appointments. They may have ongoing conditions which require careful management, or sometimes just the standard dentist, opticians and chiropodist appointments they need to keep. Younger neighbours can be really helpful here, either by offering a lift or by keeping them company. You may also be able to help them use the internet to get better deals on the supplies they need – whether it’s filling a prescription via an online pharmacy, helping them to shop for glasses, or sourcing affordable dentures – these are all much easier on the web.
Include Them In A Family Dinner
Loneliness can be a real problem for older people, and especially if their spouse may have passed away, or they have family who live far away and rarely get to visit. If that is the case, sometimes the best thing you can do is simply extend an invitation to a family dinner. It doesn’t mean having to cook anything fancy – sometimes a family favourite like a lasagne is something they will miss. You could check with your new friend if there is a meal they especially miss having, but the most important thing is to provide a bit of company and some socialisation. Having them experience that family atmosphere again can be a real tonic to a lot of elderly people’s mental health, and your family could gain a lot from an ‘adopted grandparent’ too.
Help Our Around The Home
As we age, simple household chores can become a lot harder, so it can be very much appreciated if you offer to help with things such as mowing the lawn, keeping the garden tidy, cleaning windows and gutters, repainting woodwork or sowing flower beds. If the senior is living on a fixed income, they may not be able to budget for a lot of maintenance work, so this can really help out. A few chores, perhaps even done with your kids, doesn’t have to take up a whole lot of time, but it really can make a world of difference to that person’s daily comfort and wellbeing.
Take Time To Listen
Sometimes, it really is as simple as taking the time to listen. Society, wrongly, can be very dismissive of older people and their concerns, which is truly sad. Everything within our culture is geared around the young and valuing youth – which can cause a lot of seniors to feel overlooked or invisible. So a lovely thing to do can be just to lend an ear and hear them out for a while. And who knows – you may just learn something in the process.