With the days darker and colder, we can often forget about those around us. If you have elderly or vulnerable neighbours, there are a few things you can do during the winter months to ensure they keep safe.
Older people don’t always need extra help, of course. Many are more than capable of looking after themselves and are fully mobile and engaging with the local community. Others, however, can feel lonely or can become housebound, especially during the winter.
Look Out for your Neighbours
Getting to know your neighbour a little better will help you build a relationship with them and make it easier to check up regularly and provide support, should they need it, during the winter months. It’s something we should all be doing if we can.
According to Age Concern, there are various things we can easily do for elderly neighbours from picking up prescriptions to salting the front pathway when there’s a cold snap and, most importantly, ensuring they stay warm and safe.
The 5-Minute Check
Elderly people can sometimes feel pretty isolated. Their family have grown up and may have moved away and they may have also lost their partner. They might be unsteady on their feet and find it difficult going out when the ground is icy or they might simply forget to put on the heating on when a cold snap comes through.
The simplest thing to do is put aside some time during the day to do a five-minute check for your neighbour. This might not mean knocking on the door but could include having a quick look to see that everything is as it should be around the person’s property. Are the lights on at night, has the milk been taken in, is there frost on their roof when yours has melted?
Popping in once a week for a cup of tea and a chat can be an excellent way to keep in contact with a vulnerable neighbour. If you see them in the street, stopping for a quick hello and making sure they’ve got everything they need takes just a little bit of your time and can make a big difference to them.
Keep Your Eyes Open
You should also keep your eyes open for any warning signs that something might be wrong. Does the house remain unilluminated as duck and full darkness approaches? Can you see frost on the roof, which usually means that the heating isn’t on? Has their car been parked outside for too long when it’s used quite often?
All these can seem quite harmless but they could mean that your neighbour is struggling a little – there’s no harm in knocking on the door and checking they are alright.
If you want to get more involved, you can contact charities like Age UK. In some areas they run a pledge campaign where neighbours can sign up online and show how they’re helping those who need it. There’s also the chance to reach out to older people in the community in general and this can be very rewarding.