The Best Ways To Help The Elderly

The Best Ways To Help The Elderly

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My heart is aching for the elderly in my neighborhood and community. They need visitors, they need meals, they need help. A few years ago, Mark and I went to a surprise birthday party for a dear friend who turned 85 years old.

His wife, Lyn sent the invitations through the mail so her husband, Vern would have NO idea he would celebrate his birthday with so many close friends. Here’s the deal, first of all,  you would never guess he is 85 years old. He is the guy in the neighborhood digging holes for trees, dragging the branches from trees he has cut down for people, and he would help anyone anytime.

Yes, he has a bad back, but that doesn’t stop him. He is truly an angel for the people who live near him. Everyone loves Vern and Lyn!

The house was packed with love at the party and I walked around to hug all the wonderful friends enjoying the night. I blew a kiss to my neighbor,  J.C. because he was sitting on the couch and I couldn’t wade through the crowd.

I did get to hug him as he left. I asked him where his wife Mae was, and he started to cry and said she is not doing well. He said, “Linda, please come visit her, she needs a friend right now.” She is close to 80 years old and has really bad arthritis. Of course, then I start to cry and I hug him one more time and said I’d check on her this week. This is the reason for this post today, to remind people to visit their neighbors, no matter how old they are.

Tips for the Elderly

Here are just a few ideas you may be able to use to help the elderly people that live near you.

  1. Grab a calendar and write down the name of someone you know that could use a hug. Pick a different name for each day of the week. You could visit Mary on Monday, Terry on Tuesday and so forth. Remember some people over 75 go to bed early and wake up late, so keep that in mind.
  2. Take a few bottles of lotion/cream in a bag when you go visit the elderly and ask your neighbor or friend if they could use some on their hands or feet. Ask them if they would like a gentle massage to soften some dry skin. Sometimes they may even like a little nail polish on their fingernails.
  3. Your neighbor may love to have some help changing their bed sheets. This may seem odd, but trust me, sometimes they really need help changing them. While you talk, wash them and dry them and put them back on. The first time you ask people it may seem weird, but friends help friends, enough said.
  4. Sometimes a neighbor could use a little help straightening the kitchen. Who doesn’t love a clean kitchen countertop? Be aware of allergies of the elderly and ask them if they have a cleaner they prefer to use. In most cases, they have run out of the cleaner and they are too tired to go to the store to buy some. Take your favorite cleaner with some rags and ask them if it’s alright to use the ones you brought. Trust me, most of the time they are grateful beyond words. If you have a bottle of vinegar, take it with a spray bottle to use as a cleaner.
  5. Take some note cards and envelopes with stamps and ask them if they want to send a card to anyone. In their heart most of the time they are very eager to write a quick note to someone. This is a great moment to listen to these sweet friends share some great stories. Bring some stamps and put them in the mailbox for them.
  6. The elderly love to have someone to talk to, to laugh with, and someone to listen to them. Hold their hand when appropriate. There is something about holding hands that sends a message of love. Yes, some people don’t want anyone to touch or hold their hands, but most love it. We can sense in most cases what makes them feel comfortable.
  7. Call ahead and ask if you can bring lunch to them, trust me they will love it! Be aware of allergies or Diabetes issues.
  8. Bake some treats like cookies and take a plate full of them to your elderly friends or neighbors. Sometimes it’s just too much of an effort to bake a batch of cookies. Who doesn’t love freshly baked warm cookies, right? Bring some baggies and ask if they would like to freeze some for later.
  9. If you make bread, grab a loaf and put a hot loaf in some open foil to keep it warm and deliver it with a baggie to store it after it cools down. If you have an extra jar of jam, take it with the loaf.
  10. Invite the elderly in your neighborhood to the next community activity, they could use the invite and the ride.
  11. You may want to show up at their doorstep with a case of water. It’s too hard for the elderly to put that case of water in the shopping cart, let alone bring it into their home. It’s too much effort, I promise.
  12. Call a neighbor and ask if they need a ride to the grocery store. They may say no, but next time I bet they’ll take you up on it. Or ask them if there is anything you can pick up for them, they may just like a bunch of bananas. They will love it!
  13. If you love washing windows, ask if they would like their front window washed. There is nothing more cheery than looking out a sparkling clean window.
  14. Ask a neighbor if they would like to go for a ride and see the leaves changing in the fall. They can always say no, but they may say yes!
  15. I have some neighbors who I know very well, and I have set up automatic payments for their bills. They love it!
  16. Bring some fresh batteries over to change their carbon monoxide detectors.
  17. When you change your smoke detector batteries, ask if you can change theirs. They will welcome it, I promise.
  18. Air furnace filters need to be replaced often, change yours, and then ask your neighbor if you can change theirs.
  19. Wendy: the post office sells pre-stamped envelopes with a sheet of paper so they can send letters to friends and family.
  20. Wendy: Gift a book of stamps, it may be hard for them to get to the post office.
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Final Word

May God bless you for being aware of the elderly in your neighborhood or community. I know for a fact they love visitors. Here’s the deal, if your neighbors have a lot of family living near them, that’s awesome. But most do not, and I really think they can use some help. May God bless this world. Linda

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  1. `such great and loving ideas, I know I look forward to one lady calling about once every 6 months. I worked for her years ago and I can’t walk down her steep walk to see her and she doesn’t visit folks so we catch up on the phone, For you younger gals It gets lonely when you are alone and older, and then you go into a hibernation state, but if someone is near you get up and get what you can done. I love yard work but don’t dare go out and get involved without knowing someone is here, if I fell, I might not be able to get back to the house and I don’t wear one of those sensors for it would alert the Medics and they might kill my 2 dogs coming to help me, rather die on the spot than have my dogs hurt.

    1. Hi Jeanne, thank you so much for your comment. It’s so true about the hibernation state. I see that in my neighborhood. It really is sad. My hope is that people will read my post and comments like yours so they will see the need to visit others. People need people Jeanne, and you and I know it! May God bless you, Linda

  2. It’s important for older folks to feel they are ‘in touch’ with others, which our grand old Post Office can do. Here’s a tip to make this even easier: the post office sells pre-stamped envelopes! When a friend’s son went to prison (for stupidity, I swear), I gave her 20 of these envelopes with a single sheet of paper in each…for her to address but ask his friends, relatives, to write a short letter to send to him. I sent him his first letter. He wrote back, thanking me for doing this. He said he’d already got 5 letters of encouragement from friends, in these envelopes. His mom later said she doubted the younger set would have mailed him anything except for this system. (She’d have them write the letter, then she’d mail it.) After the 20 envelopes were gone, she got more. So, yes, he continued to get mail. (That’s a biggie when incarcerated.)
    I never thought about doing this for the elderly but it would make it easier for them to keep in touch. When my dad lived in a senior apt, getting stamps was difficult for him. It’s not like he used the internet to order postage! He had stationery, would write to people, but counted on my sis to get him stamps. If I’d realized the PO sold pre-stamped envelopes, I could have provided these. So, maybe this is pertinent info for those of us with elderly relatives/friends.

    1. Hi Wendy, great idea on the stamps and the pre-stamped envelopes. I’m adding this to the post!!!! People make mistakes but they are still human and would love a letter in prison, great reminder. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your comment! Linda

  3. First, I must thank you for your wonderful book which I received, yesterday and have already delved into it.
    This article about the elderly, being elderly myself, I find to be wonderful and kind and full of love for our fellow human beings. You are to be commended for all you are doing to help others.
    I have copied and pasted this to my own people giving you absolute credit for it.
    Thank you for everything, Linda.

    1. Hi Dian, you are so welcome, I’m glad you have delved into the book!! I had a rough childhood, but I rose above and try to do something nice for someone every day. It doesn’t have to cost money. Life is good when we are kind to one another. Linda

      1. Hi Linda, I received the book too. I thank you very much; it’s very thorough.
        Pat (who is elderly, I guess – 75)

  4. I live in a senior apartment community. I see a lot of seniors moved in here and just left by their families. Of course, I also see seniors moved in here and their family (sons and daughters as well as grandchildren) visiting them every day or so. One of the things that is sad, is that there are many who just don’t want to get out – it is too much trouble. Perhaps they are in so much pain that they don’t want to or cannot get dressed each day.

    I am not a social butterfly myself but I do get out and talk to people each day. That being said, I am also very comfortable not seeing anyone for days. I don’t know if this is the case for many others as well.

    I took some books that I had read to a neighbor. I see her out and about frequently. Well, we sat for over 2 hours while I learned about her family, ancestry as well as her late husband’s. Now, I don’t know for sure how old she is but I would say at least 15 years older and possibly as much as 20 years older! I do know that her family treats her very well but sometimes the “elderly” want to talk to someone who is not family.

    Our community has potlucks each month. I am not really into potlucks (I don’t know how everyone keeps their apartments and if they have pets). But, for some reason, I went to our last one. There was a woman and her daughter. They had just moved in a few months ago. Mom is 101 and daughter is 78! Mom was very friendly and visited with all of us at our table. Daughter was also very outgoing. Daughter said that if there had been a 3 bedroom apartment in our complex, her daughter would have also moved in (she is too young but could have been the “care-giver”)!

    I make it a point to talk to all those who I run into but some don’t respond. I had one neighbor make a comment that a person they said good morning to didn’t respond. I reminded this neighbor that the other person may have been hard of hearing or very shy and to not take it personally!!

    Since we are all on very limited/fixed incomes here where I live, it is challenging to help out another person with things like stamps, food, etc. but I can always offer rides or other assistance. And, I tell them that if they have a need they just need to ask because I don’t always know when or what is needed. I do have one neighbor who is gone a lot. One day I saw a package in front of her apartment and it sat there for a couple of days. I rang her doorbell several times and received no answer. I took the package to my apartment (2 doors down) and left a note on her door. Two days later, she came to get it and thanked me so much for doing this. Now I do it regularly (she is a QVC addict!!) and I requested she let me know when she was going to be gone and when she planned to return so I could pick up her packages. That reminds me that we should notice when papers/packages sit for more than a day or so and if needed, let someone (in my case management) know. My managers can then contact the emergency contact to see if there is an issue.

    1. Hi Leanne, you are so right about the hard of hearing. I know what you mean about the potlucks, they are so fun, though!! You are a good neighbor I can tell! Life is so good when someone says “Good Morning.” Great comment, Linda

  5. Linda, May I abbreviate your post and send for publishing in our Hometown Focus paper? I think this article is wonderful and would love to share it, but may be too many words. I would of course indicate that it was excerpted from your post.

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