Ways to Help your Neighbor, and How this New Jersey Couple did Just That

Helping your neighbor might be the farthest thing from your mind when you live in a big city. It can be easy to forget what can you do to help your neighbor, especially if you never interact with them or have never even seen them! Sometimes our jobs and busy lives keep us from even being able to relax and enjoy our own homes, much less spend time helping our neighbors or volunteering for other services. When we do volunteer, it can feel like so much work goes into helping others, that we leave no room for ourselves. If you’re wondering what can you do to help your neighbor, it’s a good idea to start off small, and dedicate only what time and even money you can afford to help your neighbors and others.

Hidden Disabilities

Is it even worth it helping others? Does helping others really make an impact on your life or theirs? You might start to ask yourself these questions if you notice your neighbors look seemingly happy and healthy. How would you know if someone is in need of help? Many people live with hidden disabilities that we might not even be able to spot easily. This includes illnesses such as mental illness or chronic pain, that are hidden to the naked eye but severely lower the quality of life someone has. Other times, those in need of help might be too proud or embarrassed to mention it. If you notice someone’s bills or unpaid mail piling up, lights off, and a dilapidated setting, it could indicate that person is undergoing hard times. Simply asking and getting them the right financial help, such as debt negotiation attorneys or resources to a service like social services can be of great help to them. The best part of reaching out and giving resources is that it takes little effort to reach out and ask someone how their day is, or simply offer an ear to listen. Getting started with these small gestures of kindness can start a snowball and help you get experience in knowing what can you do to help your neighbor.

Helping those with Visible Disabilities

Hidden illnesses are sometimes difficult to spot, but still require assistance and a support group. In addition to those with hidden illnesses, many other groups of people and neighbors might need help for disabilities we can readily see. For instance, someone who lost use of their legs, or no longer has limbs, may need further assistance even with everyday tasks such as moving around their home. What can you do to help your neighbor that has a visible illness? For starters, simply assisting them physically when you have the chance is a good start. Holding open doors for those with physical limitations, for instance, is a small gesture that can hold a lot of weight to it.

Offering to do handy work for your neighbor can also seem small but can make a big difference. What can you do to help your neighbor when low on time? Mowing their lawn that you notice is overgrown, collecting their mail from a mail box that’s far from their front door, or even simple tree care on their property are all simple steps that can be greatly appreciated. It’s always important to ask the permission of your neighbor before you begin to assist them. This is known as consent, and is crucial to have even if you have the best intentions. For instance, if you can do roofing on your own, don’t assume your neighbor wants your help and begin to tear up their roof! Instead, offer them assistance in scheduling appointments or referrals for residential roofing services. This is just one example of how easy it can be to help those with visible disabilities maintain their property, and show that you care.

Helping the Elderly

Of all neighbors we might have, none are more in need of help than elderly neighbors. In fact, in countries with life expectancy beyond 70 years, such as the United States, people spend approximately 8 years, 11.5% of their life span, living with disabilities. In addition to having invisible illnesses such as the aforementioned chronic pain and diseases that affect cognition in older age, such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia, elderly people can also suffer from mental illness as well. In fact, 13.5% of elderly people who require home healthcare, and 11.5% of recurrent elderly hospital patients suffer from depression. It can be difficult to diagnose elderly people with depression because it can be seem like their worries coincide with normal stress from older age. However, medication and treatment such as talk therapy is often required to treat depression in elderly people.

Physical illnesses and disabilities are also incredibly common in elderly people. Conditions such as arthritis, coronary artery disease, Parkinson’s disease, and cataracts are just some of the diseases that can physically affect our elderly neighbors. What can you do to help your neighbor that is elderly? You can start by speaking to them and offering a simple conversation when you see them. Elderly people are prone to living alone, as their children are adults with families of their own. Offer to do work around their home for them, such as emptying out their gutters or even offer advice to fix visible issues, such as with gutter installation service. Offering to fix these visible issues can prevent your neighbor from living in an unsafe or uncomfortable environment.

If you have common ground with your neighbor, discuss these matters with them. For instance, if you have both lived in the same city for a long time, how has it changed over time? Perhaps you both like the same team or the same TV show? Reminiscing and providing healthy communication with senior people has been shown to help reduce stress and agitation that are, unfortunately, part of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. In addition, holding a conversation and helping seniors has been shown to boost confidence, self-esteem, and simply put, get rid of boredom!

Veteran Seniors

The United States had a mandatory draft for the military up until the Vietnam War. A draft is where males must participate a number of years in the military and must deploy to other countries to fight wars, such as in Japan and Germany for World War II, or Korean during the South Korean War. Veterans today know this well, having experienced military service during the war in the middle eastern countries of Iraq and Afghanistan that continue today. Because of the draft, many elderly citizens, and possibly your neighbor, are Veterans of wars and might have residual effects from it. In fact, according to the National Council on Aging, there are more than 11 million adults aged 60 and older alive today who have served in the military, representing over 15% of the population over 60 years old! That’s a big amount. Moreover, these older veterans can still suffer from effects of the war, such as Post-traumatic-stress disorder, substance abuse, homelessness, and loss of limbs and even cognitive functioning due to traumatic brain injuries resulting from blasts. These older citizens served their time for their country, and are in need of help even today.

What can you do to help your neighbor who is elderly and also a veteran? According to research done by the National Council on Aging, 57% (over half!) of older veterans have at least three or more chronic conditions they have to live with. 31 % report fair or poor health, and 22% report feelings of sadness and depression. In addition, 1 out of 4 older veterans have a functional limitation such
as trouble with bathing, dressing, and walking. The statistics are staggering, however, there is some good. Elderly veterans can receive financial help, such as service connection for a service-related disability that they might have acquired as a result of their time in the military. If you are a veteran and want to know what can you do to help your neighbor who is also a veteran, providing resources on help that the Veterans Administration has to offer can be of huge help. Offer to drive your neighbor to appointments, whether it be doctors or with the VA. Because older Veterans are likely to suffer from physical limitations, helping them with things such as re-roofing services that are physically intense can prove to be a life-saver.

In addition, elderly people (not just veterans) are prone to break-ins due to living alone, and might not have the ability to fight off an intruder. Help your neighbor install some security systems, or enlist the help of glass doors contractors to help reinforce and strengthen your neighbors door to keep intruders at bay.

When asking yourself what can you do to help your neighbor, consider their knowledge and use of modern technology to help improve their quality of life. Set up a Facebook or social media to help them connect with their family if they live alone. Or, offer to help improve their landscape and make it safer, such as by redoing an old driveway or getting tree removal services to make it easier for your neighbor to move around if they use a wheelchair. ‘In addition, pay attention to what their concerns are. Does your neighbor say they notice their energy costs are going up and leaks coming through their ceiling? Why not offer them help in getting spf roofing to conform to their roof and lower energy costs? Do they need help with a pet and don’t know where to take them? Research a veterinarian and take their dog or cat there. Paying attention to the concerns of your neighbor can give you more clues to figure out what can you do to help your neighbor.

An Amazing Example of Neighborly Help

We’ve mentioned all the ways in which you can help your neighbor, whether they suffer with an invisible or visible illness, are elderly, or are a veteran. Has anyone put these ideas into action? Throughout the country, there’s always neighbors helping each other with the groceries, their children, or even having a casual conversation. People are wondering what can you do to help your neighbor all the time, but these citizens took the meaning of neighborly help to a new level! When 82-year-old veteran Joe Riccardo of New Egypt, New Jersey didn’t have the money to fix a gaping hole in his roof, his neighbors were able to come to the rescue with the help of some amazing anonymous donors as well. Joe Riccardo, like his neighbors, Amanda and Kyle Nielsen, had their homes ravaged by the tropical storm Isaias in early January, 2021. Amanda and Kyle kept a close eye on their neighbor’s home (as we mentioned earlier, looking for signs can help), and didn’t even realize someone had been living next to them the whole time! That person was Joe Riccardo, who had a tree fall on his home during the storm that left a hole in his roof, leaving him exposed to rain and wind.

Not only was Riccardo left to suffer from rain and other elements, but also from the cold even before the storm came. Joe Riccardo had no money to pay for heating oil to keep his furnace going, and instead he had used space heaters to help him stay warm for the past three years. After Amanda and Kyle heard his story and realized he had no money to pay his insurance deductible to fix the hole in his roof, they sprung into action. Using an online donation account called 5Help Foundation, the New Jersey couple were able to help Riccardo pay his deductible and pay for an arborist to remove the tree that had fallen on his home. They were also able to enlist the help of HVAC companies to fix his furnace and restore heating to his home once again! Riccardo, who was also a Veteran, was left stunned at the service his neighbors had provided him, and the donations on 5Help Foundation continue to pour in. With the help of his neighbors, other people have now donated to help Riccardo restore his home and renovate it with some much needed repairs, with the help of other local companies.

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