When my 94-year-old mum acquired a new neighbour who asked if there was anything she could do to help mum, my initial response was ‘thanks for the kind offer but I think the family have it covered’.
However, as mum became more forgetful and her ability to manage day to day tasks declined, I did ask her friendly neighbour if she would keep an eye out for mum and drop in occasionally. She was delighted, popping her head in if she didn’t see mum out and about in the garden, collecting the mail, offering to pick up some groceries when she was shopping for herself and generally helping out in a myriad of small ways. A warm friendship developed and it turned out to be a win-win situation.
It was clear people like to be asked!
In the same way I am very happy to help when our 80-year-old neighbour needs help taking out the bin, changing a light globe, mowing the lawn or even chasing a possum out of the ceiling! In many ways it is a reciprocal relationship – we look out for each other’s places when we are away, collecting the mail and watering the garden.
Helping out with the little things makes a big difference for people who wish to maintain their independence and remain living at home as they age. Building community and being a good neighbour benefits everyone.