If you have free time to spare and would like to make a difference for seniors, you should consider volunteering your time at an independent living community. Volunteering allows you to share your talents, creativity and support with seniors who would appreciate your time and companionship. Many independent living communities appreciate volunteers for transporting residents, companion visits, holiday events and other tasks. Volunteers are of all ages, ranging from teenagers to seniors, with some volunteers bringing pets or children to visit the residents.
Here's How You Can Make a Difference
Perhaps you'd like to volunteer in several aspects, or maybe you'd prefer to devote your time to one specific cause within the community. You may find that needs will vary according to the time of year, or when the independent living facility is understaffed. As a general guideline, here are five ways to volunteer your services for independent living residents:
1. Provide Resident Transportation
Providing transportation for a senior resident is one positive way to make a difference. If you own an SUV or wheelchair-accessible van, you might want to volunteer to transport a disabled resident to a rehabilitation center for weekly sessions. You may also use any automobile for transporting a resident to a doctor's appointment, for shopping or for outings.
2. Schedule Companion Visits
Visiting seniors at an independent living community can offer friendship and support, as well as form lifelong bonds. You may find this to be as beneficial for yourself as it is for the residents you visit. You may alternate your visits with a new resident weekly, or be a companion to one individual on a continual basis, for a one-on-one connection.
When you offer companionship to a resident, you might share a mutual hobby, such as knitting or scrapbooking. You might also spend time reminiscing, sharing ideas or watching a movie together. Play a game of chess or bingo, or share activities such as cooking or baking. Sharing your time can help make a senior resident feel more connected and less isolated.
Ask if it's allowed to bring your pet for a visit. A visiting pet may have a therapeutic effect for an elderly individual living alone. Keep in mind, there may be restrictions for certain breeds or species.
In addition, independent living residents may appreciate a visit with a child. There may be a program known as "adopt a grandparent" where children can form a relationship with a senior resident. If you know of a child that doesn't have a grandparent of his or her own, this program may be beneficial for both the resident and the child.
3. Help With Holiday Events
Many assisted living communities plan seasonal events during holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and the Fourth of July. During these times, a community may welcome your help. You might volunteer for party planning and decorations, or to bake cookies. You might also help residents address and mail holiday greeting cards or packages.
4. Be a Tutor or Teach a Class
You might want to tutor residents in a specialty of yours. Teaching computer basics can be helpful, especially if the facility has a computer room or community room with WiFi. You might also provide lessons on how to use a smart phone. Put your talents to use and teach a senior resident how to weave baskets or create flower arrangements.
5. Assist With Office Tasks and Clerical Work
Some independent living communities rely on front desk office volunteers during a busy time. Ask about performing receptionist duties. You might answer phone calls, do faxing or copying tasks, shred documents or create data entries.
In many cases, being a volunteer at an independent living facility doesn't require special abilities or skills. With so many ways to participate, you can make a difference in a senior's life. For more information, check out the independent living areas in your town.