Contributed by Michelle Hassler
Summer is a fun time of year that is often jam packed with activities, vacations, and social gatherings. However, the summer months also come with a laundry list of chores and tasks that need to be handled. If you can, take a break from your own social calendar and explore how to help others this season. Find time to dedicate to help someone you care about who may not be able to accomplish certain tasks due to health complications, advanced age, caregiving responsibilities, or simply a full plate. Here are a few ideas for how to help someone this summer.
The lawn is one thing that homeowners need to tend to on a regular basis. It doesn’t take long for a yard to become overgrown and difficult to manage. For some people, it can be tough to admit that they cannot keep up with their home maintenance. If you notice things are starting to become unruly, or sense that the task of mowing the lawn might be too great, simply offer to stop by. If they need regular help with moving, organize a schedule for people to take turns helping or hire someone to come regularly. Also, if you know someone who has recently experienced a loss or has been in the hospital, popping by and mowing the lawn would be appreciated. You do not even need to tell them it was you. Returning home and seeing one less chore to worry about will be a nice relief.
Checking in with elderly loved ones in the summer is helpful when you want to ensure that their needs are being met and they are functioning well independently. Simply stopping by for a visit will quickly allow you to assess if their home temperature is appropriate and to see that they have enough groceries. If you are taking a loved one out to lunch, come in the house before or after to make sure things are running smoothly and they are not in need of extra help. Sometimes health can decline rapidly and it is not always obvious to someone’s loved ones. Plus, your visit will be enjoyed and appreciated.
Be a Companion
As people age, it become more difficult to get out and socialize making your time there more special and needed. If they enjoy outdoor activities, consider joining them or working alongside them. Make a plan to garden or go on a walk together. Taking an elderly person to go grocery shopping is a huge help – especially when it comes to loading and unloading the cart and taking the groceries inside. Remember, after you are done, encourage some extra hydration and try to avoid being out during peak sunlight hours and on excessively hot days. Plus, be sure to incorporate breaks.
For most people, weeding is not an enjoyable task. Along with the fun factor, it is difficult for many individuals – especially the elderly – to bend down and do the work. If you notice someone could use some help with weeding, stop by with a friend and work together so you can chat and get the job done faster. After you are finished, be sure to go in and visit for a bit. Also, if your loved one would enjoy flowers but does not have the means to care for them outside, bring them a potted plant that they can keep indoors and tend to easily.
When school is out for the summer, it can leave caregivers with two big problems: not enough time and too much time. It seems like schedules are either jam packed or kids are struggling with boredom free from the structure of a school day. Offering to babysit, carpool, or plan a fun outing (during non-busy week) would bring relief to busy parents or grandparents. Bringing over a craft or new game to play would keep the kids occupied so caregivers can tend to housework or run errands.
Many people take time to travel over the summer months. Offering to be a house-sitter, pet-sitter, or plant-sitter (an underrated job) would help to ease minds while on summer vacation.
Cover Caregiving Shifts
If you have a friend or family member who is a primary caregiver, offering to help with caregiving duties while they are on vacation would take a huge burden off of their shoulders. Offering your help long before summer rolls around may make the idea of “time off” easier to manage and allow them to plan a trip they deserve and can enjoy (with minimal worry). Take the time to learn what they want you to do, and assist them a with caregiving duties for several days leading up to their vacation so you are familiar with routines and practices.
During arguably the busiest time of the year, it is easy to become wrapped up in your own obligations and activities. Think about someone you know and how to help them this season. Not only will you be giving someone else the relief they need, it will help you to stay aware of the struggles of others and exercise the art of giving.