Thursday, September 16, 2010

Helping My Neighbor

Most of us have the desire to help those who are less fortunate than ourselves. Giving donations to charities that assist people in developing countries is what many of us have and would be willing to do, but what about those living in our neighborhoods? After all, those who need real help of all kinds live everywhere. My neighbor is one these people, and I am wondering how I can best help her.

At first, I was wary of her. Several months ago, I heard my new neighbor ranting in our common hallway for no apparent reason, which really put me off. When I met her for the first time, I realized that her mental and physical ailments impair her behavior. She talks incessantly about her disappointing relatives, her overwhelming health issues, and her cat, who she has a love/hate relationship with. I was shocked to hear that her family never visits her, especially since some of them live nearby.

As the daughter of Indian immigrants, I was raised with the understanding that the young take care of their elderly family members when they cannot do so themselves. Surprisingly, part of me understands why my neighbor’s family members are not interested in having a relationship with her; her erratic behavior is overwhelming at times, and while she has always been kind to me, I have heard her have frightening verbal arguments with others. Dealing with someone who is unstable and has mounting health care bills could be too much for those who have their own financial and personal issues to deal with. Still, I could never completely abandon a relative of mine in such dire circumstances.

My neighbor should not be living alone. I know there are many services for the sick, disabled, and elderly on public assistance, but I have no idea how good they are or if she is willing. In the meantime, I will continue to check in on her, even though I know it isn’t enough. I just hope I will never be in a similar situation when I get older. It is a frightening thought.

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