Do you want to help seniors in your community, but don’t know where to start?
Seniors are like the rest of us with their own unique abilities and talents but have years of wisdom and knowledge to back it all up. Their lives don’t revolve around the news or crossword puzzles. Seniors enjoy having fun, sharing laughs, and living life to the fullest. I know many seniors with a busier social calendar than people one-third their age.
It’s not that seniors don’t enjoy doing things—they may have a harder time doing them or would like the company of doing it together. If you want to lend a helping hand to seniors in your community, here are just a few ideas to help you get started:
#1: Help seniors with errands and grocery pick-up
As we get older, getting out and about can become more challenging. Whether due to a loss of mobility, poor vision, or simply a lack of transportation, seniors may find it hard to do the things they once did, like picking up groceries or running errands.
Although this may not be a problem for some, it can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness for others. Fortunately, there are ways to help. If you have an elderly neighbor or family member, offer to pick up their groceries or run errands for them. And if you don’t know anyone who could use some help, there are many volunteer opportunities available at local senior centers or through Meals on Wheels.
#2: Give the gift of time
As we get older, we often find ourselves becoming more reflective. We look back on our lives and take stock of all that we’ve accomplished and all that we’ve experienced. It’s during these times that we can often feel the most alone.
Our seniors have lived through a lot and have a wealth of knowledge and wisdom to share. Listening to their wisdom and stories can provide valuable perspective, unique insight, and knowledge we wouldn’t otherwise have access to. Further, studies show that social interaction and engagement can improve cognitive function and fight depression in older adults.
With the current pandemic disproportionately affecting the elderly population, it’s more important than ever to reach out and connect with our seniors. Consider lending a listening ear, visiting, being a pen pal (and making friends while you’re at it), writing letters, sending postcards, calling, or emailing our most treasured resources.
#3: Let them teach you something
Many seniors possess a wealth of knowledge and experience that can be invaluable to younger generations. Learning from an older adult can be a rewarding experience for both parties involved. Asking seniors if they would be willing to teach you something can help to foster intergenerational relationships and promote mutual understanding. Not only will you have the opportunity to learn new skills or information, but you will also get to connect with someone from a different generation. Below are a few skills you could ask a senior adult to teach you:
- How to cook their signature dish (and finally get the recipe in writing)
- How to garden
- How to knit or crochet
- How to golf
- How to play a card game or board game
- How they survived during tough times (e.g., poverty, economic depression, war, grief, injustice)
#4: Help seniors by being a walking buddy
There are many benefits to staying active as we age, including improved heart health, better joint function, and increased brain power. Walking is a great way to stay active, and it’s even better when you have a buddy to walk with.
A senior adult can be a great walking buddy, providing companionship and motivation while you get some exercise. Walking with a buddy can also help them stay safer, as someone else will be there to watch out for hazards on the road or path.
#5: Ask how to help
Asking seniors in your community how you can help is a great way to provide support and assistance. By taking the time to ask them what they need, you can help make their lives a little easier. Because what you think they need and what they actually do may be two different things. Whether running errands, helping with yard work, or simply providing companionship, there are many ways to help. And people appreciate the gesture of being asked, as it shows that you care about them and are willing to lend a hand.
#6: Teach technology to help seniors in your community
It’s more important than ever for seniors to stay up-to-date. Unfortunately, many older adults find themselves feeling left behind when it comes to new gadgets and devices.
You can help to bridge the digital divide by teaching a senior how to use technology. Whether it’s showing them how to send an email or helping them purchase their first smartphone, your efforts will go a long way towards keeping seniors connected. Additionally, set aside time to connect with a senior in your community, whether in person or over the phone, to help them preserve their independence and avoid feeling socially isolated—which is one of the most common anxieties among seniors.
Seniors are a valuable resource in any community
There are many different ways that you can help seniors in your community, and we hope these six tips will inspire you to get involved. Whether you choose one or all of these ideas, know that your time and effort will be greatly appreciated by those you help. By giving back, we can all benefit in many ways.