Deemed high risk, many senior citizens have had to forgo their active lives during the pandemic. Shopping and running errands as well as having a social life have become difficult, and many are suffering from isolation. Here are ways younger people can help older folks and keep them connected with their communities.
Help with groceries and meals
Many people and groups are holding food drives and delivering groceries to seniors. Fairfield resident Alexis Harrison has helped run more than 20 food drives to support Fairfield-based Operation Hope and Bridgeport Rescue Mission. People can donate food or gift cards at Operation Hope, 636 Old Post Road, Fairfield.
The Connecticut Food Bank also offers opportunities to host a food drive or donate.
You can also lend a hand at senior centers, which often rely on volunteers. For example, the Westport Center for Senior Activities needs substitute drivers to deliver meals weekday mornings. To register, call 203-341-5099.
Also, volunteer with your local Meals on Wheels or Home Delivered meal programs.
Running errands and other ways
From picking up prescriptions or assisting with household needs, there are things readers can do to help their senior neighbors.
Be neighborly. Call and check in on older adults in your neighborhood. Find out if they are doing OK and have safe access to nutritious food, essential supplies and medicine. Take care of unmet needs on their property, such as snow shoveling.
Marie L. Allen, the agency’s executive director, says people can also contact local libraries. “Many seniors are desperate for reading materials but are not comfortable going to libraries for the materials. Offering to drop off or pick up books is a great way to help seniors,” she says.
You can also support caregivers who are looking after older loved ones. Offer to provide respite, or a break from caregiving, or just a socially distanced visit.
To find other volunteer opportunities with seniors, go to URCommunityCares.org, call 211 or your local Area Agency on Aging at 800-994-9422.
Give ‘em a call
One of the hardest parts of having to stay home is the social isolation. While not a replacement for being able to see one’s family or friends, phone calls to seniors can help ease loneliness and provide a social outlet.
Hamden-based Interfaith Volunteer Care Givers of Greater New Haven provides weekly phone checks.
The AARP runs a similar program: Friendly Voice.