Different cultures have different attitudes towards the aging population and there are many ways to help the elderly and vulnerable in your local community. In Asian cultures for example, reverence and respect for the elderly are part and parcel of their way of life and many people care for the elderly. In the US for example, two-fifths of U.S. adults care for sick and elderly relatives. We're all going to get there one day and losing one's independence must be hard to contend with but there are things we can all do to help. Little things can sometimes make a big difference. It's not about patronizing people though, as there are some very active eighty year olds who could probably run rings around me! But it is about helping everyone in the community. Evidence shows that helping others can be as beneficial for the helper as it is for the recipient and can be incredibly rewarding. It can boost self-esteem and your sense of purpose so it's great for everyone involved! Here are some simple ways to help the elderly in the community.
1. Cup of Tea
This is simple but effective and one of the best ways to help the elderly. A cup of tea and a chat can be a great way to help. Sometimes people just value someone to speak to. Get to know the people in your community and seize the opportunity to start a conversation. We sometimes live in a climate of fear, in a world where people are so afraid to speak to one another for fear of them being an axe murderer, and whilst it's good to be wary, it can also lead to people leading increasingly reclusive lives and becoming more insular as the years go by. Looking out for each other is a great way of building a community where everyone is looking out for each other and it sometimes starts with a cup of tea and a chat!
Another way to help the elderly in your local community is to do a shopping trip for them. It can sometimes be tricky for some elderly people to get out and about, especially if they're not mobile. If you can, take them out to the shop as getting out may be exactly what they need.
3. Garden Chores
Gardening is a wonderful hobby but it's quite labour intensive and sometimes the elderly and infirm can find it a challenge to grapple with the tress and shrubs, which can become overgrown and wild in next to no time. Offering to tend to the flowers and shrubs can be a great way to help.
Perhaps you live near a community centre or a rest home. Volunteering is a wonderful way to spend a few hours of your spare time. Perhaps you can spare a few hours a week or a month to help with activities. There may be many opportunities in your area to help, whether it be through one-to-one phone chat groups, driving and hosting tea afternoons or helping someone who lives alone.
5. Raising Money
Raising money for charities which help the older generation is another way to help. In the UK we have a number of charities to help the elderly and vulnerable, for example Age UK is a charity which does exactly that. Their Warm Homes Program helps thousands of elderly people whose homes become so cold during the Winter that they need help and assistance to better insulate their homes and therefore save on their fuel bills. According to the Office for National Statistics, in the UK, 25,600 people over 75 died as a result of the cold weather in 2012/13.
6. Organizing Activities
Perhaps you're a budding events organizer and you like to get people together. This is another great way to help people in your community, by organizing activities and events where people can gather socially and get to know each other.
7. Pets as Therapy
We all know how therapeutic having a pet is and studies have shown that animals are a great means of helping the elderly, as well as those with disabilities and emotional needs. Maybe you could purchase a pet for an elderly relative to keep them company. Alternatively, you could see whether your dog could become a therapy dog. Therapy dogs have been used since Ancient Greece to help treat a range of emotional and physical aliments. If you're thinking about volunteering your dog as a therapy dog, you first need to find out whether your pooch has what it takes, as their behavior and temperament need to be assessed first.
There are often reports in the news about people who have passed away without anyone knowing for weeks, months and sometimes sadly, years. Getting to know people in the community and helping others is one way of preventing people from feeling lonely and isolated. Is there anyone involved in doing such things in their local community?