Anyone seeking a way to give back to their community can volunteer to help a senior citizen. The AARP (formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons) estimates that as many as 20 million senior citizens could use a least a little help around the home. Or they need assistance outside of the house as well. The opportunity to give back to this group is extensive, and the rewards to the volunteer can be priceless.
America continues to age. According to the Census Bureau, an average of 10,000 people turn 65 years of age each and every day. Due to improved health care and life spans, more of these older adults are healthy enough to work or care for themselves than a generation ago. But with that being said there are still millions of older Americans that struggle to care for themselves.
How volunteers can help seniors
What a volunteer can do to help the elderly is extensive. Maybe there are some tasks they need help with outside of the home, such as mowing the lawn or shoveling snow. Since many seniors do have a fixed income, if they have a home repair that needs to be done the cost can often break the bank. So a volunteer with any skills may do some minor home repairs.
There are a number of senior citizens that are considered to be homebound as well. Maybe they can’t drive (or gave it up) due to medical reasons. Or maybe they turned in their car as they can’t afford it. So the elderly may need food brought to their home by a volunteer, or they need a ride to the doctor. This is where a volunteer can really make a difference by contributing to a Meals on Wheels program, which will bring the homebound some food and also check on their health.
People can always volunteer at one of the many agencies that focus on helping senior citizens. Maybe the leading organization is Area on Aging. This is a national group that focuses on supporting senior citizens in a wide variety of ways. An aging office can provide dozens of ways to volunteer. People can provide advice around finances, they organize recreational activities or field trips, operate senior centers, serve meals, and provide the elderly a place to go for companionship. Much more may be available too.
These offices are based in most towns and counties across the United States. So anyone seeking to volunteer at one should not need to travel far. Volunteers are always needed, no matter the time of the year.
Another way to help the elderly is not quite as formal. We think just being kind can be just as good (if not even better) then a formal volunteer program. What we mean is just check up on an older person that lives in your neighborhood. Maybe if there is a snow storm in the region drop in to see if they need help shoveling. Or help them carry heavy items into their home, or hold a door open for a senior. All of these small things can make a huge difference.
Personal care is always in need as well. Some senior citizens may need constant (or occasional) more personal support around the home or apartment. It can help them live independently vs. moving to a care facility. Older Americans may need help preparing meals, mopping or vacuuming, washing the floors, and other small activities. Not only does it help the senior, but it also gives them company and someone checking up on them.
All of these activities are very beneficial. Not only from the direct assistance given (such as delivering a meal or performing a chore), but the volunteer also bring the senior a visitor. If someone is elderly, there is a greater chance for them to be lonely, and dropping into to help with the activity also benefits by bringing that sometimes much needed companionship.