Ways to help: AARP launches ‘friendly voices’ program to call seniors

Whether you’re in need of help or want to help your community, AARP may be able to help connect with local resources

Here are five ways you can assist others during the coronavirus outbreak.

If you’re looking for ways to help people in your community in this moment, AARP may be able to help. The company has set up a program to help bridge the gap between volunteers and those in need.

AARP is keeping track of mutual aid groups on its website to help connect people across the country, from helping to pick up groceries or calling to check in.

What is a mutual aid group?

"Mutual aid groups are informal groups of volunteers that band together to find effective ways to support those people most in need who live in their local community," according to AARP. "Mutual aid can include picking up groceries, providing financial assistance, or lending emotional support to your neighbors."

How can you get involved to help?

Whether you want to find a mutual aid group or start one, you can find resources on AARP’s website.

“We may be apart, but we don’t have to be alone. Whether you want to start a group, find a group, or even request a friendly call from one of our volunteers, we can help you connect with people in your community,” according to the company.

What are ways you can help in your community?

In addition to volunteering to run errands, the company has launched AARP Friendly Voices. 

From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, trained volunteers are calling to check in on folks who may be in need of hearing a friendly voice. If you or someone you know could benefit from a call, you can fill out this form.

Here are some additional ways to consider helping senior citizens amid the pandemic: 

Offer to go to the grocery store

As people shelter in place, of course an essential errand is going to the grocery store. While some stores have designated shopping hours for senior citizens amid the coronavirus outbreak, check in with a neighbor to see if they are uncomfortable going out.

If you do pick up and drop off groceries for a neighbor, here are some things to keep in mind: Go to the store alone, wash your hands before going, wipe down your cart and then wash your hands when you get home before dropping off the supplies with your neighbor, Dr. Brian Chow, an infectious disease physician at Tufts Medical Center told WGBH.

“We know that coronavirus can persist on some surfaces for at least a few hours afterwards. We're not really sure what the outside number for that is. But eventually it will dry out and die and not become contagious,” Chow told the radio station.

Send a care package

Most experts agree that its OK to send mail amid the coronavirus outbreak and can be a way to brighten someone’s day.

"Although the virus can survive on inanimate objects for a period of time, the major risk is going to be in the social interactions with people who are sick,” Chow told WGBH.

If you're going to send or drop off a care package for a senior citizen in your life, WebMD recommends including things like over-the-counter medications to treat fever or coughs, food items that will last awhile, and disinfectant sprays or wipes. You can also include things like puzzles, reading materials or crosswords.