How to Help an Elderly or Shut-In Neighbor
July 22, 2019 by DAVID SCOTT
When the stories hit the paper about a person dying and not being found for weeks or even months, many people wonder how that could happen. Unfortunately, it’s more common that you might think.
Elderly people and those who live alone without a local support system may not be soon missed. A quick Google search for something like “shut-ins in Tucson” gives you a glimpse into the scope of the problem as many organizations are dedicated to bringing food to, spending holidays with, and checking on those who may have no one else.
At Bio-One, we receive more calls than we’d like about unattended deaths. It’s always sad to think of someone dying alone, but is there anything we can do to prevent it and to ensure that someone notices when these valuable members of our society are missing?
This problem is an example of one that is best solved on an individual level.
If everyone who had an elderly neighbor who lived alone took just a few minutes each day to check on them, it would safeguard against no one noticing if they were missing for weeks.
Here are some ways you can help your neighbors who are elderly or shut-ins:
· Make friends with your neighbor and let them know you’re available to run to the grocery store. Of course, you have your own life to live, but offer to pick up some things for her when you make your normal grocery run.
· Once a friendship is established, ask if they’d mind if you called once or twice a day just to see if they’re doing OK. A quick two or three minute call will not only allow you to make sure your neighbor is OK, but will help them feel connected to the outside world—and that’s a bigger deal than you might think.
· Keep it light and happy when you’re around them. This is your chance to be a bright spot in the life of someone who needs it—and you should never miss such a chance.
· If possible, invite them to share a meal on significant holidays and try to learn their birthday so you can acknowledge it in some small way.
· If you’re unable to reach your neighbor during one of your regular phone calls, go to her house to check on her. If she doesn’t answer the door, call the police to do a wellness check.
Those are just a few examples of the ways that giving just a little of your time can make a huge difference in the lives of others and prevent the scenes that Bio-One is called upon to cleanup far too often.
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