16 Ways to Help Neighbors, Friends & Fragile During a Pandemic

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Pandemics are isolating. As governments urge people across the globe to stay at home, the need for community becomes stronger. Days can quickly turn into weeks of isolation, but even apart, we can remain united. 

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Whether you’re stuck at home, social-distancing, or recovering from the virus, we’ve compiled a list of ways to show up for yourself, family, friends, and your community. As we navigate this new viral landscape, let’s do it together (while six-feet apart). 

How You Can Help Your Friends and Family While Social Distancing

Even if you’re not sick, practice social distancing. According to the Center for Disease Control, the elderly and immunocompromised are most at risk. 

Not to worry, there are still plenty of ways to help your loved ones during a pandemic. You might find yourself more connected with your friends and family than ever before. 

1. Fulfill their food wishes 

Who doesn’t love to indulge in a favorite dish? Order groceries online for your elderly family members. If they don’t know how to use the internet, you can guide them through the steps to order. Grocery delivery and curbside pick up are two ways to get your food fix while staying safe. 

You can also order take out for your loved one as a special surprise. Most restaurants are open for deliveries or take out orders. Not only is it a way to show you care, but you’re helping support the local community. 

2. Host a dinner party

If you’re wondering what to do with leftover groceries, why not plan a virtual dinner party? It’s one way you can help your loved ones (and yourself) adjust to a temporary normal.

Ask your friends and family for their favorite dishes or use our meal train ideas for inspiration. Choose your dish together and enjoy comparing how they turned out. 

3. Make plans

The uncertainty of a pandemic dulls the shine of the future. That’s why it’s so important to have something to look forward to. Make taking care of your loved ones and your mental health a priority. Reflect on happier times while planning for the future. 

Sit down with your loved ones and schedule time for adventure once the pandemic is over. Make a travel-bucket list or brainstorm a new activity to do together.

4. Don’t forget to stay in touch 

Services like Google Hangout and Zoom aren’t just for business meetings. Millions of people around the world are using social media to stay close to their loved ones. Set a time for a weekly check-in with friends and family. 

Sometimes traditional can be the most heartfelt. Write a short thank-you note to your loved one for their support over the years. A hand-written note, especially during a hard time, is never out of style. If you’re not a writer, go old school with a phone call. Start with our questions to ask older loved ones to help the conversation. 

5. End-of-life planning 

During a pandemic, your loved ones may feel anxious about the future. Even if you are young and healthy, completing an advance directive form is a good idea. It lets your loved one know what medical care you do and don’t want in case of a health event. 

If you’re concerned about the health of a loved one, start an end of life conversation. Do they want a tree planted in their memory? What will happen to their pet? Model by example and start your end of life planning to encourage others. It’s a simple step you can make to secure your future.

ยป MORE: If you've lost someone, it's not always clear what comes next. These next steps are here for you.

 

How You Can Help Your Neighbors or Community 

It’s easy to get swept up thinking about the state of the world in a pandemic. Thinking globally is best paired with local action. You can look into local options for mutual aid and food banks and take steps to support your neighbors and community. Even small acts during a pandemic can make a difference. 

6. Make a face mask

Surgical masks and respirators may be in short supply during a pandemic. You can make face coverings to support your community and even set up a virtual crafting day to check-in with your neighbors. 

The Center for Disease Control recommends homemade cloth coverings as a way to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Get started with these sew and no-sew instructions. 

7. Give a gift card 

Businesses in your community are probably hurting from quarantines and stay-at-home orders. If you can’t order takeout or delivery, buy a gift card. Think of your favorite mom and pop coffee shop or that delicious breakfast place you went to over the summer. 

If your income allows it, buying gift cards for future use helps local businesses get the cash they desperately need now. You can send a gift card by snail mail to your loved one—it’s sure to brighten their day. 

8. Host a neighborhood party 

As videos of heartfelt block parties appear all over the internet, why not host your own? (At a safe distance, of course.) Belt out your favorite tune from your patio or turn on music and gather to enjoy dinner together while social distancing. 

9. Create a community list 

It’s challenging to reach out to people in your community while social distancing. If you’re asking yourself, “how can I help?” create a community list. Use a social media platform like Facebook or Whatsapp to create group chats for your neighbors. 

You can make a virtual form to share with your neighbors and ask what they need. Making medical appointments, running errands, and finding child-care are difficult during a pandemic. A community list is a great form of mutual aid that can make these needs more accessible. 

10. Help a shelter pet

As shelters and rescue organizations shutter their doors, fewer people adopt pets. Some animal shelters face staff shortages and more surrendered animals than adopted ones. Visit your local shelter to find a furry friend. 

If you’re not ready for a permanent commitment, consider fostering. It’s a wonderful way to lessen the weight of the pandemic at your local rescue. 

How You Can Help the Jobless and Fragile During a Pandemic

If you’re stuck at home and healthy, you may be wondering how to help the less fortunate. As unemployment numbers skyrocket and more people become ill, thinking about others makes a difference. 

11. Donate blood

Every two seconds, a patient needs a blood transfusion says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Blood donations are essential for treating vulnerable cancer patients and organ recipients, among others. Unfortunately, donations decrease during a pandemic, so giving blood now is essential. 

12. Give financial support

If you can afford it, continue to pay your child-care provider, housekeeper, or local membership organization (like your gym). If your loved one is unemployed, start a discussion—can you help them polish their resume or learn a new skill? 

You can also donate to food banks or local nonprofits, like Family Promise or Feeding America. These organizations provide shelter and food for thousands of families. If you can’t donate financially then consider donating your time as a volunteer. 

13. Make a care package 

Care packages are bundles of joy that you can make any time. They are especially useful for the elderly and medically fragile. These people in your community may be incapable or too afraid to go to the store for necessities. 

Items like non-perishables, body care, and first aid necessities are a few ideas to include in your care package. Give them to your loved ones or leave them at the doorstep for the elderly or immunocompromised in your community. 

14. Lend a listening ear 

A pandemic is difficult for everyone, especially the fragile. Listening is a simple but heartfelt way to show your compassion. Run some errands for your loved one or simply listen to them vent about their circumstances. 

15. Walk a dog  

If your loved one is part of a high-risk group, it’s advised they avoid going out in public as much as possible. Lend a hand by walking your loved ones or an elderly neighbor’s pet.

Wipe the pet’s paws when you come inside, and make sure to abide by social distancing measures. 

16. Volunteer 

With many people staying home, vital organizations like nursing homes, food banks, and churches are in desperate need of volunteers. You can still volunteer while social distancing - just reach out and ask how.

Practice Self-Care 

If you’re feeling anxious about your loved ones or fearful of what may happen—Cake is here for you. While you’re busy taking care of others, don’t forget to practice self-care. Start a journal or learn a new skill. 

If you’re concerned about your medical future, name a health care agent. This is someone that can make medical decisions for you, in case you can’t. Sometimes the best way to help others is to take care of yourself. Making a plan is one way you can have peace of mind at an uncertain time. 

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