During the winter months we often get caught up in the gift giving, cooking, and planning. In modern times one overlooked element is sharing happiness in forms other than gifts.
Even in normal times, many older adults who live alone face lonely times coupled with a flood of emotions and memories of get togethers of the past. Now we add the pandemic, shelter in place and social distancing, and the isolation factor increases.
One neighborly gesture that will likely make someone’s day and maybe step up your spirits during the pandemic is checking in on someone in your community. It doesn’t have to be formal or staged; it can be as simple as retuning their garbage cans and a few moments of casual conversation. You can also shovel their sidewalk or driveway or bring the newspaper up from the lawn, anything that expresses kindness and concern.
2020 has been an extremely difficult year mentally for most people. It’s even more difficult for seniors, as they are a very susceptible group that can easily become sick or die from illnesses, such as COVID-19. Many have been sheltering in place since March and some have not left their homes at all. This group has isolated themselves from the outside world due to necessity, and unfortunately that has led to depression, mental illness, cognitive impairment, and other illness.
Please regularly call your neighbors to check in on them and say hello. This touch may seem small, but it might mean the difference between surviving the pandemic or succumbing to the isolation factor. If it’s nice outside, you can even talk to them through their door or over the backyard fence.
Some people feel like they are being nosy if they check in on their neighbors. It’s not being nosy; it’s being a good person. Recently, we were speaking with a gentleman whose wife was sick and he was severely depressed. He was at his breaking point and had no one to talk to. We discussed his status and found that he could use someone to talk with regularly. We had a counselor from a local organization contact him and provide some mental health resources.
The winter months will be difficult this year. The coronavirus pandemic has caused most families to isolate themselves and not visit those who don’t live within the home. For safety reasons, the people that normally enjoy time and special events together are not included. Maybe we can help some people through this tough time by bringing back some old-fashioned joy and human contact with a simple check in.
Happy New Year and be well.