How to Help an Elderly Neighbor

Tips for Keeping Seniors Safe

By Colleen Harvot, Valley VNA Director of In-Home Care

As a neighbor to an elder, you’ve probably noticed that older people tend to have regular routines. Does the elderly gentleman next door always pick up his newspaper from the front stoop by 8 a.m.? Why is it still outside at noon? If lights-out is usually at 9 p.m., why are the lights still on at 11 p.m.? Could someone be sick or hurt? If your dog is uncharacteristically barking, has someone fallen out in the yard? (I cannot tell you how many stories I’ve heard about dogs helping raise the alarm.) When something seems a little off, it may be time to take a careful look outside, call over to the house, knock on the door, or call the non-emergency police number for something called a wellness check. Remember to have this important information on hand in case you need to help:

  1. Write down your neighbor’s full name, phone number, and house number. If you call the house to check on your neighbor and everything is fine, just say hello.
  2. Get a phone number for your neighbor’s closest friend or family member. This can be as easy as introducing yourself as she gets out of the car on a regular visit and saying, “If I’m ever concerned about your mom (or dad or aunt), it would be nice to have your number.” Offer your name and number, too.

Now that you’ve made the connection, consider an occasional short visit to help break up the cold winter days. Here are some tips and ideas to help make a warm connection:

  • Keep your visit short (10-20 minutes), especially if it is a simple drop-in.
  • If your neighbor appreciates pets (find out ahead of time!), consider bringing your well-behaved dog or cat.
  • Have young children color a picture and bring it along.
  • Offer to bring (printed or audio) books from the library and return those that are due. Discuss the books you’ve recently read.
  • Bring a blooming bulb. The small potted plants cost just about $4 and both the color and scent are invigorating long after your visit is over.
  • Share a piece of pie, cup of soup, a small bowl of fresh fruit salad, or a slice of lasagna. No need to make a special dish, simply share what you are having today. Everything tastes better when someone else made it for you, right?
  • If your mailboxes are out on the street, offer to tuck the mail in your neighbor’s door during the winter months to save him from traipsing out in the cold and ice.
  • Share news you’ve heard about prescription bubble packaging, Meals on Wheels, foot care clinics, and live music You never know if one of these services is just what your neighbor needs.

Our community relies on the caring and compassion of good people like you to keep our neighbors safe. Valley VNA is active in the community to ensure seniors can stay in their homes and live safe and fulfilling lives. To learn more about In-Home Care, call us at Valley VNA at 727-5555.

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