International Day for the Elderly/Make a Difference Day
Life’s rich experiences are indispensable. They’ve helped make up everything you are today. So just imagine how many valuable stories and lessons your elders can share with you.
As you look ahead this year, remember the importance of giving back to the seniors in your life. For parents, grandparents and older friends, just a bit of quality time shared can mean so much. Use our list of ideas for ways to lend a hand, a listening ear or your skills to seniors—from reminiscing to making new memo-ries.
Visit a nursing home or assisted living facility
One of the most meaningful things you can do for someone stay-ing in a nursing home or assisted living facility is to spend time with them. Whether you’re saying hello to a neighbor, loved one or new friend, make the most of your visit by calling ahead. Plan a time to drop by, or schedule regular visits that your friend can look forward to.
Don’t show up empty handed! Bring along a board game or cards, a care package, a video or a home-baked treat. Find more fun take-along ideas in our Friendly Visitor Kit.
Reach out locally
Chances are there are seniors right in your own neighborhood who could use your help. Help out close to home with these ideas:
- For some seniors, health prevents them from getting out and socializing. Keep them from feeling isolated by going for a visit, bringing over a meal to share or renting their favorite movie for you to watch together.
- Offer to run errands for those seniors who can no longer drive. Ask if they’d like to join you, so you have time to chat while checking items off their to-do list. Make it a weekly ritual and let them know they can call upon you when need-ed. You can also bring them along as you ride around town, so they can get out of the house and visit with you at the same time.
- It doesn’t take a skilled handyman to do many around-the-house chores. Offer to rake leaves in fall, shovel the drive-way in winter, and fix little things around the home.
Be a companion
If you don’t have your own parent or grandparent that needs extra caring or family members and friends, there are plenty of seniors out there who could use some company. There are also many programs and organizations that can match you up with the perfect friend in your area.
- With the Elder Helpers program, sign up to help in ways that fit your interests and skills, from reading to handi-work.
- Senior Companions is a Senior Corps program for volun-teers who are 55+. You can sign on to help older seniors with daily tasks, keeping them independent and in their homes.
- You can also volunteer to help aging seniors through or-ganizations such as the National Council on Aging.
Continue lifelong learning
Whether you’re at a nursing home or a friend’s home, ask your-self what you can learn from your older friend—many of their experiences may surprise you. While they’ve likely compiled stories over the years, it can often be challenging to know just what to ask in order to start a conversation. Here are some ways to help get them reminiscing.
- Discover their passion: Does your friend love to cook? Ask them to share a favorite family recipe. Do they love to sing or draw? Get them to show you. Find what they’re pas-sionate about, and chances are, they’ll welcome the chance to chat about it.
- Uncover their skills: If you don’t already know the kind of career your friend had, find out! Ask questions about their biggest lessons or favorite moments. Don’t forget to ask them about their skills and hobbies outside the job, too—sewing, woodworking, writing. Request that they teach you a thing or two.
- Log the memories: Bring along a photo album, scrapbook or journal on your visit, and encourage your friend to sit and compile their memories with you. Use narrative, pho-tos, captions, doodles and more. You’ll be turning their oral stories into a documented history book in no time!
- Make some artwork: Turn select pages of your memory book into wall art for their room. Simply photocopy the best pages with photos and captions, then hang them up so your friend can continuously recall good times. Plus, colorful photos are sure to brighten any room.
Connect through “Create the Good”
Want to volunteer with or for a senior? Create the Good has ideas for ways to make your time together memorable. Find opportunities for giving back to seniors.
View the October 2018 Newsletter as a PDF