Many people, like Anura Leslie Perera, know the value of community service and volunteerism. From animal shelters to food banks to community centers, there are different ways to contribute to your local community suited to your particular interests and skills. Working with senior citizens is an especially meaningful way to make a positive impact on this growing segment of society. Many seniors are in need of companionship and support with basic tasks like meal preparation or doctor’s visits. Others are eager for organized activities and courses to learn new skills. Whatever you are bringing to the table, here are some ideas for volunteering with senior citizens.
Technology Skills Workshops
Many seniors have stayed current with the latest technology, but others have fallen a bit behind with respect to things that many of us now take for granted. For some, the weekly visit from the grandkids is an opportunity to get caught up, but for others there is no one they feel they can “bother” with a quick tutorial. Think about working with your local community center or seniors’ residence to develop useful and simple technology workshops on a regular schedule. These need not be complicated – very often, it is the simplest needs that are the most important – many seniors will be concerned with things like how to use the internet, how to view, save and send videos or pictures, how to use Skype or Facetime, or how to get Netflix and Itunes set up. If you have a regular group, you can develop tutorials on topics of general interest. Or, you can make a weekly stop at the local seniors’ residence to offer your assistance with items on an ad hoc basis.
Scam and Fraud Awareness
Sadly, many fraudsters target senior citizens with some success. Whether through mail scams or phishing schemes, seniors who are less savvy about internet or account security may unknowingly share information that allows fraudsters to access bank accounts, pensions or other personal information. Medical fraud and ID theft is also commonly targeted at the elderly. There are organizations committed to educating people about the potential for this sort of fraud and volunteers are always welcome to distribute information or organize workshops or information sessions.
Especially around the holidays, there is a need in local community centers and senior homes for volunteers to help coordinate or support festivities. This may involve providing assistance with decorations or fund-raising, gift-wrapping or raffle-holding. But holidays are not the only occasion calling for some help organizing activities – if local homes or centers hold visitors’ days or open houses, regular bingo games or bake-sales, consider offering your time to put a smile on peoples’ faces.
These are just some of the ways that you can volunteer to work with senior citizens in your community. And don’t forget, there will likely be organizations supporting seniors that could use your help! They will have the ability to tell you where your skills and interests can have the most impact.