By Barbara Twardowski for Next Avenue
The last few days, I’ve been receiving calls and texts from friends and neighbors. One person was running to the drug store and asked if I needed anything. Another friend wanted to be sure I had food. And another called just so we could talk about how surreal life during the coronavirus pandemic feels.
I have a progressive neuromuscular disease, use a power wheelchair, and can no longer drive. My husband works 12-hour shifts at a local hospital. Our nearest relative lives six hours away.
I am well acquainted with social isolation.
Being alone can be difficult. Over the years, I’ve deliberately created a network of friends and neighbors who know my circumstances and don’t mind lending me a hand.
In the days to come, more of you will be confined to your home. Many of your neighbors might be alone, ill, afraid or in need of assistance — especially if they are physically distancing themselves from other human beings.
9 Ways to Show Kindness
Now is the time to reach out to one another.
Do you know the people who live on your block or in your apartment building? If you don’t, put a note on their door with your name and phone number. Explain that you live next door or down the street. Tell them you want them to feel free to ask for help.
Many people are uncomfortable asking for help. Instead of just saying, “Do you need help?” offer to do something specific for them.
Here are examples of what you can do:
1. Before you run to the grocery store, drug store or a restaurant to pick up take-out, call and ask your neighbors if they need you to pick up something for them.
2. Volunteer to walk their dog(s).
3. Would if be helpful for them if you put their mail and newspaper beside their front door?
4. Does their yard need maintenance? Ask if they would like you to mow their yard, shovel the snow from their driveway or water their wilting flowers.
5. Do they need assistance putting their trash out or bringing the empty cans back into the garage?
6. If you have extra soap, toilet paper or other staples, leave a care package at your neighbor’s door.
7. If you’re looking for ways to engage your children, have them make cards and crafts for the neighbors. Just to be safe, place items in a zipped bag with instructions to wait seven days to open, for germ prevention.
8. Go online and join your neighborhood group to communicate with those who live nearby. Websites like Nextdoor already exist or you can create a private group on Facebook. Just remember, many of your neighbors might not use social media. Some people don’t text. Find out how your neighbor prefers to be contacted.
9. Even if your neighbors say they don’t need help, continue to offer. Accepting assistance from a stranger can feel awkward.
Your neighborly acts of kindness can make a difference in someone else’s life.
Part of the THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW SPECIAL REPORT
Barbara Twardowski writes about travel, lifestyle and boomer topics from the New Orleans area.
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