Did you know that almost four million people over the age of 65 in the UK live alone? And that those older people are more likely to suffer from mental health conditions compared to those who live with others?
The statistics from Age UK make uncomfortable reading, and when you’re busy juggling family life with work and everything else life has thrown at us in the past year it can be easy to forget about vulnerable neighbours and relatives living on their own.
We live in a block of flats where many of our neighbours are elderly and many live alone, making lockdown and living with coronavirus restrictions especially hard and lonely.
As a family we’re doing our best to help out, from opening stubborn jam jars and loaning tools to offering to pick up shopping, but I’d like to do more.
So, what else can we all do to help elderly neighbours, not just while we’re living in lockdown, but afterwards too? We’ve teamed up with Age UK Mobility to share 5 simple and practical ways to help elderly neighbours during lockdown and beyond.
5 practical ways to help elderly neighbours during lockdown & beyond
1. Offer to lend a hand
Check your neighbours have everything they need and offer to pick up food shopping and medicines if they’re unable or too worried to visit the shops. You can leave things on doorsteps and in porches and you could even offer to disinfect the items first for added peace of mind. Just remember not to cross the threshold and stay two metres apart at all times until social distancing restrictions are lifted.
2. Make sure they can get about safely
The older we are, the easier it tends to be to slip and fall and have accidents about the house. Age UK Mobility specialises in mobility products from bathroom accessories including grab rails and shower seats to stairlifts and walk-in baths and showers. They’re operating throughout lockdown and buying products from Age UK Mobility also helps support Age UK’s charitable work.
3. Keep in touch
Coronavirus restrictions coupled with the dark nights of winter and bad weather can make it harder for older people to get out and can leave them feeling lonely and isolated. If you don’t already have it ask or find out your neighbour’s phone number, check if they need anything and let them know that if they do, you can help out. You could even organise a rota with other neighbours to ensure someone is regularly calling on them to see if they are ok.
4. Encourage them to share their feelings
If an elderly person has been feeling low or out of sorts for several weeks, Age UK advises that it’s really important they share these feelings with someone – you their neighbour, a friend, a family member or their GP.
5. Make them smile
We might not be able to go into each other’s homes and share a cup of tea at the moment but it’s amazing what can be achieved through a window or from a front doorstep. Our older three have painted pebbles from the beach with happy words and pictures to put outside our block of flats to make people smile, and they love waving at neighbours and friends through living room windows too.
Do you have elderly neighbours you’ve been looking out for during lockdown? Has lockdown helped bring you and your neighbours closer together? I’d love to hear about your experience!
This post was written in collaboration with Age UK Mobility.