I helped my neighbour during lockdown; but there's no end to it
Dear Miriam, I offered to help my elderly neighbour during lockdown; but there seems to be no end in sight!

Dear Miriam,

During lockdown, I offered to help an elderly neighbour if he needed shopping, prescriptions collected or anything essential like that. He would have been a good friend of my husband’s late father, and I was off work at the time, so I was happy to do my bit to help him “cocoon” as safely as possible.

In the end, I was going to the shop for him almost every day, as he would ring every morning to ask for the paper, as well as whatever food he wanted, rather than make a “big shop” list. This meant that I was out and about more than I wanted to be myself (I do our “big shop” on a Thursday) but again, I said I’d do my bit.

But he still rings every day for the newspaper and shopping!

As you know, the restrictions have eased off and we are all getting back to some sort of “normality”; including this gentleman, who has taken to calling in on neighbours again and was down at the GAA pitch, watching training. Of course, that is his right and he must have been very lonely the last few months on his own. But he still rings every day for the newspaper and shopping!

It’s not that I want to leave him high and dry Miriam. I realise that there is still a risk with the virus and the elderly need to be especially careful going into shops etc.

My husband is busy on the farm, we have young kids and I’m back to work part time again. So it’s fairly full on

But when I offered to help out, I didn’t think that I was going to be “on call” on a daily basis forever. My husband is busy on the farm, we have young kids and I’m back to work part time again. So it’s fairly full on.

I’d still like to help him, but I can’t really keep running to the shop every time he picks up the phone. How should I handle this?

Busy Neighbour

Dear Busy Neighbour,

Thank you for your email. First of all, well done on all the help you have given to your neighbour during the COVID-19 crisis. I’m sure that you had a lot on your plate at the time with your own family, so it was really kind of you to help keep him so safe and well connected during these difficult months. Good neighbours like you are worth your weight in gold.

We all have to continue to practice social distancing and keep risks to a minimum, especially those in the most vulnerable categories

As you say, we are returning to “normal”, but we can’t really leave our guards down entirely either. We all have to continue to practice social distancing and keep risks to a minimum, especially those in the most vulnerable categories. That includes this gentleman, but while he might be out and about more, he obviously is not quite comfortable braving the supermarket just yet. So if you can, I think it would be nice if you could continue to support him, but in a more structured way that causes much less stress; and keeps you safe also.

To be fair, I think the daily shopping list could be replaced with one weekly list, so that you could get the bulk of what he needs in one trip, while getting your own groceries.

Regarding the newspaper, is there a home delivery subscription available?

He just might not be used to planning like this, especially when he is shopping/cooking for one. You could explain that with work, you are under a bit of pressure to do the daily shopping trip, but that you could draw up a longer list together and go from there?

Regarding the newspaper, is there a home delivery subscription available? Or if he is handy on technology, would a digital subscription be an option? Failing that, your husband could take some of the pressure off by taking that job on, or dropping up the milk or whatever else he might need extra during the week? At the end of the day, this gentleman was his father’s friend, so the link is with his family.

Hopefully we will get back to the “old normal” sooner than later; but I think it’s important that we try to look after each other as best we can until then. As the old proverb goes, “it is in the shelter of each other that people live”.

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