There are over 5.9 million seniors currently living in Canada. Of this demographic, over 20 percent are currently suffering from mental health problems. Winter is one time of year where seniors may become more isolated, and correlatively more depressed, especially if they live alone. Because of the harsh conditions, it can be more difficult to leave the house, which can get quite lonely.
If family does not live close by, your senior neighbour may be stuck inside the house for the majority of the winter.
You can play a part in the mental and physical well-being of your senior neighbour by keeping an eye on them this season and going out of your way to be a good neighbour.
Here are a few ideas to help get you started.
Shovel Their Sidewalk/Driveway
An icy sidewalk can be catastrophic to older adults. Help them avoid slipping on the ice by shovelling and salting their sidewalks and driveway for them. Shovelling snow can cause an elevated blood pressure, which may put your neighbour at risk of a heart attack. Keep them safe by keeping their walkways cleared and danger-free.
Ask If They Need Anything
Many seniors prefer to be independent and may feel like they are imposing by asking for help. Don’t wait for them to ask you; offer your services to them. Offer to walk their dog, drive them to the grocery store—anything that might help them and keep them out of harmful conditions.
Invite Them Over for Festivities
Are you getting the whole family together and know your senior neighbour will be alone that night? Invite them to join in! Many seniors may feel isolated, especially around the holidays if they have no family. This is a great way to get them into the holiday spirit while helping to improve their mental health.
Maintain Regular Communication
Something as simple as a quick “hello” every few days can make a world of difference to your neighbour. This is also the perfect opportunity to ask them if they need help with anything. Get a conversation going—you don’t know when their last conversation might have been.
Check to Make Sure Their House Is Winter-Ready
Help your neighbour go through a checklist to make sure they’re prepared in case of an emergency. From batteries to first-aid kits, you never know what to expect in the winter, so it’s best to be prepared for anything and everything.
Ensure They Have Your Telephone Number
Make sure they know they’re not bothering you by giving you a call. The last thing seniors want is to feel like a burden. Assure them it’s no trouble to reach out to you. If they need anything, or in case of emergency, they have a direct line to you. You’ll both feel better knowing they have someone to reach out to if needed.
Speak to Them about In-Home Companion Visits
The holidays are a crazy time of year. You’ve got shopping to do and family to see, and you may not always be available if your senior neighbour needs help. In this circumstance, you may choose to have a discussion with them about in-home companion care. This way, your elderly neighbour will be well taken care of, even if you’re not around to help them.
This is also a great way for your senior neighbour to experience some much-needed social interactions this winter.
While you may feel it’s not your place to bring up in-home care with your neighbour, if you’re concerned for their well-being, it’s best to address the issue. If they have close family, make sure they discuss this option with their family as well.