Offer help ... and really mean it!

Maureen Kennedy
Maureen Kennedy

How often have you heard or said the words, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do”.

Kind words, well meant, usually at a time when someone is unwell, 
bereaved or in some kind of trouble.

But invariably, the
offer is never taken up. And the reason is that it’s such a common expression. Everyone says it and it’s actually quite hard to get back to someone with a request.

Recently, my 75-year-old neighbour broke her wrist and ended up in a plaster cast for eight weeks. She’s a wonderful lady and always helping us out, so, when we heard the news, the instinct was to say, “let me know if there’s anything I can do”.

But some of us decided on a different tack. We had a chat, worked out what she would need and then presented her with options. I asked if she wanted me to take her to the shops or get her shopping for her, thus forcing her to opt for a definite plan.

Another person went to her house and simply asked her to plug in his lawnmower as he was going to cut her grass.

Another neighbour bought extra morning rolls and a newspaper for her and just put the whole lot through the letterbox.

Her wheely bins were rolled out for her and another neighbour simply informed her that she would be round to change the bedlinen and towels on a certain day and took them away to wash.

When it came to hospital appointments we took it in turns to drive her to the hospital.

The result was she was well and truly looked after.

She admitted that she wouldn’t have asked for help, would probably have struggled by herself or hoped that her elderly sister would have helped. But she was thrilled that we had all looked after her so well.

So, whether someone is unwell, an elderly person living on their own, a disabled person whose partner needs a hand from time to time, a busy mum whose husband is away a lot or just someone who seems to struggle, don’t wait to be asked.

Think about what you could do to make their life easier and make a specific offer to help. It could be helping in their daily life or just being a companion for a while.

Remember, one day, you might be the one who needs help.