During these unsettling times, there can be a temptation to focus only on ourselves and our immediate loved ones to get through the current crisis. Depending on our situations, we may not have the ability or resources to do more. But for those of us who do have the ability to support others, especially the most vulnerable people in our neighborhood, parish or broader community, it’s a crucial time to help them. Let’s not write off the vulnerable among us. Let us reach out to them. The National Council on Aging has offered some basic tips for helping more vulnerable people during this time. Below is an excerpt from the Council’s website:
- Health first! The most important first step is to protect yourself. • Stay informed—follow the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and your local health departments. • If you are in a high-risk group, if you are feeling sick, if you are self-isolating, or if you have tested positive—there are different steps you must take to protect yourself and your loved ones. Start by talking to your doctor. • Avoid unnecessary public activities, crowds, and public transportation. Postpone non-emergency doctor appointments.
- Practice physical distancing and social connecting Staying at home doesn’t mean we can’t stay connected in other ways. Stewards of Ourselves and Our Neighbors • Maintain a safe distance from other people—at least 3 feet, preferably 6 feet. • Make sure to stay socially connected. Walk around your neighborhood, go out in nature, talk to friends—but keep a safe distance. • Pick up the telephone or use Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime. The good news is many people will be home, so it can be easier to reach them. • Use email, texts, and social media to stay connected with friends, family, and your community.
- Reach out and educate Be a source of accurate, trusted information for your family, friends, and neighbors. • Don’t assume that everyone knows what you know about how to protect themselves and others. Make sure they are taking proper precautions. • Urge the younger people in your life to take this seriously. • Reach out especially to isolated older adults you know. Check in on them. Let them know you care. See if they need help and, if they do, help them figure out how to get it.
- Be proactive about your health It’s very important to do what you can to keep your physical health and mental well-being strong. • Boost your immune system with exercise. Go outside in the sunshine, hydrate, eat a balanced and nutritious diet, make sure you have enough medications for at least a month. • Do what you can to reduce stress and anxiety—don’t give into fear. Now is the time to stay calm and live realistically.
- Ask for help if you need it You are not alone. We are all in this together. • If you need help getting food or other essential goods and services, let people know. Don’t be afraid to ask a neighbor, friend, or family member for a helping hand. • If you’re having trouble paying your bills, visit our free BenefitsCheckUp to see if you qualify for public and private benefits programs to help pay for food, medicine, and more. We will get through this if we all support each other.