Volunteering among seniors has been linked to improved quality of life, stronger social networks, increased levels of physical activity and lower mortality rates. One of the key benefits of volunteering is social support. Many seniors are at risk for social isolation and aging-related stresses.
As with any volunteer opportunity, having a personal connection to your cause will increase engagement, be more meaningful and fun! Here are some ideas to identify a group of seniors to volunteer your time or donate items.
Senior Center or Assisted Living Facilities
Churches, Veterans Halls, Hospitals
Ask your team if they have any personal connections to a group of seniors
Consider picking a location near your office so you can develop a relationship and volunteer throughout the year
While socializing with seniors provides the most benefit, we also have to be mindful of this group being particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and other illnesses like the flu. If you do get an opportunity to volunteer in-person, please ask about precautions that will make them feel most comfortable.
Here are some ideas for in-person activities:
Read from a favorite book or magazine
Put together puzzles
Sing Christmas Carols
Go for walks
Take them to run errands
If volunteering in-person is not an option, you can also collect donations and create gift baskets or care packages. Check with your contact to see if there are items that are needed, but below you will find a list of general ideas.
Crossword/Sudoku puzzles and pens (look for the jumbo font for easy reading)
Adult coloring books and colored pencils or markers
A cross-stitch pattern
Books or magazines
A deck of cards or a favorite game
Food or Special Treats
Speak with your contact to check for specific dietary needs such as diabetes or soft foods.
Cheerful mugs or teacups
Homemade cookies or bread
Favorite candy or snacks
Personal Care Items
As you fill your care package with fun surprises, remember that the most meaningful gift is often something personal or sentimental. Consider adding a handwritten card or note.
Don’t forget to plan for what you will use to hold you gift basket items. You can place your items in a gift bag or another useful item like a plastic storage basket.
Whether you choose to do an in-person event, or collect donations communicate the opportunity early and often! If you are collecting items for a gift basket you can create an amazon wish list to make it easy for people to contribute who may not have the time/desire to go shopping in person. It also can be difficult to find some of these items in stores in large quantities.
For in-person events, be sure to follow any safety protocols provided by your contact. For gift baskets, choose a day to assemble the gift baskets. Don’t forget to bring scissors to cut off tags! Create an assembly line and assemble your gift baskets. Designate a person, or small team to drop off the items. If you cannot enter the facility, be sure to take some pictures of your baskets outside of the facility with your team members to post to social media and include the #FirstServeOthers hashtag.