New Zealand’s population is ageing rapidly. There are more and more people living into old age, some of whom could sometimes do with a helping hand.
What you do doesn’t have to be a big gesture. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that can make a difference.
Research shows that loneliness and isolation are as bad for your health as smoking and can contribute to things like depression and heart disease, according to Age Concern.
Here are 5 simple ways to support older people in your community:
1. Stop and talk
If you see an older person out and about, smile, stop and say hello. That one little gesture could brighten their day – and yours. Ask them how they are. How’s their day been? You never know, you may be the first person they’ve spoken to in days.
2. Ask if they need help
Does your neighbour need help with anything? Do they need help with their groceries, a trip to the doctor, help with moving something heavy? Perhaps they need help taking their rubbish or recycling bin out. Maybe you could bring their recycling bin in for them?
3. Cook a meal or do some baking
There’s nothing lovelier than a home-cooked meal or home-made baking at any stage of life. Cooking and baking can become difficult as we age and sometimes older people don’t eat as well as they should, especially if they are living alone. Why not drop something round that would last a few days? Or you could offer to come round one evening and cook with the person. Or invite them around for a meal.
4. Christmas Day and other special occasions
What’s your neighbour or co-worker doing on Christmas Day or on their birthday? Do they have anywhere to go? As we age, friends and family pass away, so don’t assume people have somewhere to go or somebody to celebrate with. Making room at your house, especially on important holidays, like Christmas Day, could really make a difference.
There are many organisations and groups that do voluntary work for seniors. Why not offer some of your time to make a difference?
- Age Concern offers an Accredited Visiting Service where volunteers spend time visiting older people, who would like more company.
- The Salvation Army offers a Senior Services Programme, a befriending programme that matches volunteers up with older people.
- St John’s provides a service called Caring Caller for people who live alone, or feel lonely. Volunteers make a phone call to check the person is OK or to have a chat. Volunteers notify St John if the person isn’t feeling well or doesn’t answer the phone.