5 Rewarding Ways To Help Seniors In Your Community

In 2019, there were roughly 54 million people age 65 or older living in the U.S., a number that is projected to steadily increase in the ongoing years (per Administration for Community Living). Unfortunately, this age group is often forgotten about or neglected, making them a vulnerable population.

With granny chic being a popular interior design look, this age group may have entered your mind recently. The trend shouldn't be your only reason to think about them, though, as volunteering with seniors is a great way to contribute to your community. Not only will your services really help out a vulnerable population, but it'll also provide you with a sense of fulfillment. As mentioned by Help Guide, there are many unexpected benefits to volunteer work, like self-confidence growth and connection building.

If you're unsure where to start, there are likely plenty of opportunities for volunteer work in your locale. You might even find that working with the elderly is more appealing to you than other volunteer opportunities.

Visit a nursing home near you

The first way to help out seniors in your community is by volunteering at a senior care facility. If you're unfamiliar, there are several different long-term living options for elderly individuals who may need everyday assistance or special medical care. Most commonly, these are nursing homes, board homes, or senior care facilities, each providing varying levels of care (per National Institute on Aging).

According to How Stuff Works, these places often rely on volunteer help to provide a fulfilling experience for their members. In fact, depending on their funding, some facilities are even required by federal law to have 5% of their patient care performed by volunteers. Plus, those living in such homes often have few visitors, so your time and attention would be greatly appreciated (per Upworthy).

If you're interested in helping out seniors in this way, start by researching the various elderly care facilities in your area and identify what specific volunteer opportunities they offer. You may want to visit a couple of afternoons a month and just chat with the seniors or you might prefer something more structured like helping out with events or outings.

Volunteer at your local rec center

You can also find volunteer opportunities at your local community or recreation center. These locations often serve as a mixing place for all ages and will likely have particular classes or activities tailored to the interests of senior citizens (per Sports Facilities). You might volunteer at a bingo night event, help teach a computer class, or chaperone a senior dance, depending on what your community has to offer.

While they emphasize their youth initiatives, nonprofit community centers like the YMCA are great places to look into for volunteering opportunities. According to their website, 77% of Americans live within 10 miles of a YMCA, making it likely that there is one in your area. However, you can also do research through databases like United Way, which will connect you to different volunteer opportunities in your area.

If you find that your local rec center is lacking in events and opportunities for senior citizens, you can always propose and host your own initiatives through the centers to really get involved in your community.

Makes friends with seniors near you

While structured volunteer work is a great way to help seniors in your area, there are also simple, everyday ways you can reach out to and support the older generation near you. For starters, be on the lookout for elderly neighbors around you, and be willing to give them your time and attention. While social connections may be something we take for granted, it's important to remember that not all seniors still have loved ones surrounding them.

As AllWomensTalk mentioned, offering something as simple as a cup of tea or coffee is a great way to start a friendship with a neighbor. Though it may be uncomfortable initially, there are many tips for talking to just about anyone, and it's something that will become easier with time. AARP Create the Good suggests some specific elder-friendly ways to start a conversation, such as discovering your new friend's passions or asking them to break out a photo album and share their memories with you.

Offer help with errands or household tasks

Another rewarding way to give back to the seniors near you is by completing tasks and errands for them. Sometimes, senior citizens are unable to drive or can no longer complete everyday homemaking tasks (per Points of Life). In this way, you can really help out someone in your community just by performing small services.

Some small examples of ways to help out neighboring seniors are taking out the trash, bringing their mail to their door, or helping them carry in groceries. There are also more involved things that the elderly may need help with, such as going to doctor appointments, buying groceries, or making it to the hair salon. As mentioned by Nursing Home Law News, things like house cleaning, car washing, and lawn mowing are also tasks that elderly people often need help with.

Mostly, though, you should be on the lookout for the specific needs of your neighboring seniors, and don't be afraid to reach out and ask them what it is they'd like your help with.

Donate to nonprofits in your community

If you're wanting to give back to the seniors in your community, but don't necessarily have the ability to give your time, then you should think about donating to local organizations that benefit the elderly. According to KFF, poverty and low income are things that continually plague the elderly community in America. Using the Supplemental Poverty Measure, it is estimated that 7.2 million individuals 65 or older lived in poverty in 2017.

This means that there are many material and financial needs that exist within the senior community. Try donating to your local food bank, giving money to a local Meals on Wheels initiative (per Eldercare Directory), or looking into specific organizations near you. You'll have to do a bit of research to find out what nonprofits are at work in your area, but this can be a great way to give back if you don't have a lot of time to give.