The holidays are here, and it’s time to share our blessings. For a vast number of people who volunteer, their community service expresses who they are. Research shows that volunteering is the most important thing people do. The community profits when the locals give back to others. Volunteers make their township a better place to work and live, especially when helping older adults. Throughout the year, we notice the neighbors living alone, the residents in care facilities and the family members caring for loved ones—so, now is an opportunity to offer support.
Start helping seniors in your community today. When making the holiday shopping list, remember to add those in need of your kindness. Here are several reasons older residents need your help—
-45% of women over 75 live alone.
-Close to 28% or 12.1 million seniors live alone.
-21% or one in five Americans age 65 and older do not drive.
-The non-drivers have trouble participating in the community and the economy.
-Hunger threatens over 9 million older adults.
-1 million homebound seniors are malnourished.
-Suicide rates of the elderly are high.
-87% of Americans receive unpaid care at home from family and friends.
SeniorCare.com created the Holiday Volunteer Guide (http://www.seniorcare.com/featured/volunteer-to-help-the-elderly/) to help you get creative. It lists cities and open volunteer events that need you. If your town is not on the list, you can use the guide to discover ways to give. Check with local non-profits, churches, and other places that offer gifts, food, clothing, and time (companionship) during the holiday season. Here are some volunteer ideas--
-Volunteer to do house chores
-Offer a ride to an event
-Take them to a movie
-Give a family caregiver a break – offer to spend time with their loved one
-Contribute time at the senior center or care facility, be a companion
-Take the person out for a short walk, weather permitting
-Help them work in the garden
-Serve meals or snacks – bring them cookies or fresh fruit
-Give a gift basket
-Call them on the phone
-Send a card
-Take their dog for a walk
-Bring your well-behaved dog for a visit
-Teach them to use technology like Skype
-Ask them to teach you a new skill
-Ask about their life and record it for their family as a memento
When using the holiday guide, you’ll have a variety of volunteer options. Now is the season for giving, connecting with family, sharing meals, and making special memories. However, that's not the experience of the elderly; their holidays are spent alone. They don't have others around who could create moments of joy and goodness. It's the volunteers in the local community that give back and increase an elderly's well-being plus form new friendships.
Carol Marak, Aging Advocate, and Editor at Seniorcare.com has earned a B.S. in Social Services and a Certificate in Gerontology from the University of California Davis. She writes for Huffington Post, About.com, HomeHealthCareAgencies.com, AssistedLivingFacilities.org and more.