It is my pleasure introduce Clair Wentz of Caringfromafar.com. Please read her article on how to familiarize yourself with your senior's neighbors if you are a caregiver from afar, or living at any distance from them. If you are caregiver to a senior with dementia, this is especially important information if you live at a distance.
"From backyard parties to having someone to watch your children when you go out, it’s worthwhile to get to know your neighbors. This is particularly true if you are a long-distance caregiver for a senior citizen. There is a wide range of reasons to get to know your senior’s neighbors. They can help keep an eye on your senior citizen, provide them with companionship, and even help them out from day to day if they aren’t feeling well. Here are some steps you should take to get to know their neighbors and introduce them to the senior in your care.
Strike up a conversation
The first step depends on how outgoing you tend to be. If you are friendly and open from the beginning, there is no better way to introduce yourself than to go right up to the neighbors’ doors and knock. Once you’re there, introduce yourself as the caregiver (or relative, if applicable) of their neighbor, and mention that you just wanted to stop by and meet everyone on the street. There is no need to ask them to come over and meet the senior under your care yet, nor is it necessary to go into their house for a cup of tea if you aren’t so inclined. The important thing is that they have an idea of who you are. If you are less extroverted, though, you may need to take your time a little more. Start by simply waving at your neighbors as you see them in their yard to demonstrate friendliness. Once you are comfortable with that, you can strike up a conversation with some small talk in the yard, and eventually take the time to introduce yourself fully. Remember, there is no pressure on either of you to become close friends—at this point, all you need to do is become familiar with one another.
Alternatives to a direct approach
If you are shy about inciting social interactions, there are a few alternatives to approaching them directly that may appeal to you. For instance, you may want to send them a brief letter inviting them over for a cup of coffee. Don’t be too formal; open up your letter with a comment about something you like about their house or landscaping, and be friendly in your tone. Another way to meet the neighbors is by borrowing something from them. Borrowing a ladder or a cup of sugar will help them feel useful and may start your relationship off on the right foot. (This is also great as a second step to maintain the relationship after you’ve had that initial conversation.) Finally, you can use organizations such as A Little Help, which can connect seniors directly to friendly, helpful people in their neighborhood. There are also helpful apps that can work as social media for your neighborhood.
Invite them over for a meal
Once you are familiar with each other, invite them over for a meal. Food is a powerful unifying force, and often plays a great deal in bringing people together. This is a perfect opportunity to introduce the neighbors to the senior under your care, if they haven’t already met, and to get to know each other. From there, they may have a vested interest in your senior’s well being. You may even want to ask that they look in on their senior neighbor every now and then while you are away. Try to get their contact information so your senior may have somebody nearby to call if they are in trouble.
Some extra assistance is extremely valuable, and there is no better way to build your senior’s circle of support than to meet and befriend the neighbors. Remember: Start off small, looking to simply become acquainted, gradually become friends with them, and eventually introducing them to your senior’s needs.
Photo Credit: Pixabay "
I cared for Mom for seven years and learned so much from my experiences with her and Alzheimer's.