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COVID-19: Ways to help older adult neighbors during COVID

May 06, 2020

Wellness During COVID-19 Healthy Aging
woman delivery person with box of fruits at door

Living through the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for everyone. But for those over 65, it may be an especially unnerving time.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised that Americans over age 65 – and those with underlying health conditions such as chronic lung disease, diabetes or heart disease – could be at risk for developing serious complications from COVID-19. 

“Older adults should take steps to stay in and socially isolate as much as possible to lessen their chances of being exposed to the virus,” says Vickie L. Armstrong, DNP with Riverside Health System. “We want to encourage them to stay healthy at home.”

Connecting from a distance

If you have an older adult neighbor who is staying at home to avoid exposure to COVID-19, there are many ways you can help. These acts of kindness will not only allow your neighbor to socially distance safely – they will also help them feel less isolated and alone.

Go shopping 

Offer to do a weekly grocery or pharmacy run to help keep your neighbor stocked with necessities. You can deliver items to their front porch to limit your face-to-face contact.

Introduce grocery pickup or delivery options

Many grocery stores offer curbside pickup or front-porch delivery – both especially helpful options for older adults who want to avoid crowded stores. If your neighbor has never used these services, you could talk them through how to set up an account online, speaking from a safe distance across your lawns or via a phone call or face call.

Share extras

Drop off extra disinfectants, toilet paper, hand sanitizer and other paper and cleaning products that can be hard to find – saving your neighbor the worry of potentially needing to visit multiple stores to source them.

Send a card or letter

Even though you may live close by, there’s something special about receiving a hand-written note. Drop a card or letter in the mail to let your neighbor know they’re not alone and that you’re thinking about them. It’s a small gesture that’s sure to brighten their day.

Drop off dinner

When it comes to planning dinner, make extra – or add to your own restaurant pickup order – and deliver a freshly cooked meal to your neighbor’s doorstep.

Ask if you can help with errands

Offer to help mail a package, run to the hardware store or pick up a curbside order from an area retail store. 

Chat from a safe distance

Take time to talk from across your yard whenever you see your neighbor out. Your smile, wave and friendly conversation may be their best opportunity to meaningfully interact with someone that day.

“In time, we will be able to return to a somewhat more normal routine,” says Armstrong. “But for now, it’s a great idea to take simple steps to make required social distancing less challenging – especially for the older neighbors in your life.”

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