Looking for ways to help out a neighbor is a kind and generous thing to do. It's often said that we don't connect with our neighbors as much as people used to, and that city dwellers have no idea who their neighbors even are. People often live a long way from family and loneliness can be a terrible thing. So try these ways to help out a neighbor, and you may benefit yourself in unexpected ways …
1. Invite Them for Meals
One of the simplest ways to help out a neighbor is to invite them for meals. Adding one to your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner isn't really difficult. Ask them well in advance if possible, so that they don't think you've invited them at the last minute out of pity. It's wise to word the invitation something like this: "Have you any plans for Christmas? We'd love you to join us if you don't." But don't just wait for special occasions - invite them at any time of year.
2. Ask Them for Help
Many people are too proud to admit that they are lonely, for fear of seeming needy. So asking them for help is a good way of getting round that. It will help them feel useful and that they have something to offer. Neighbors can be a fantastic source of help and advice when you've just moved into a new neighborhood and need an emergency plumber.
3. Give Them a Ride
A really simple way to help out lonely neighbors is to offer them rides. Their isolation may be caused by lack of transport - unless you live in a city with great transport links, not having a car can prevent people from getting out and about. Giving them a ride can allow them to do all sorts of things, such as go shopping, go to the library, or attend a class.
4. Involve Them in the Community
Another way to help out your lonely neighbor is to encourage them to get involved in the community. Even small places have plenty of activities going on, if you know about them. However, your neighbor may have no idea, especially if they are new. Tell them of activities that you know about and where they can find out what's going on.
5. Volunteer Work
If your neighbor is retired (a change of circumstances like giving up work can be a reason for loneliness), there are bound to be lots of organisations that would be only to glad of their help. Voluntary work really can't be underestimated. It helps you to meet people and feel that you are making a useful contribution.
You can also ask them for advice about life. Older neighbors have seen or done pretty much everything, so can offer lots of useful advice that will help you consider options. Even younger people can provide a different perspective or a sympathetic ear. Everybody needs to feel useful, and it's flattering when someone asks you for advice.
7. Ask about Their Life
Do you think you know your neighbors? Chat to them and ask them about their life. You could be surprised what you find out. You might discover that your grumpy old neighbor is actually a veteran, or that another bakes a mean cake. Sharing their stories could help them to feel that someone is interested in them.
Loneliness is a horrible state and can happen to any of us. It's a kind gesture to do what you can to alleviate the loneliness that your neighbors are experiencing. Of course we can't take on the responsibility of keeping someone entertained full-time, but a smile and a chat may go a long way. Have you ever been lonely, and how did you deal with it?