So you read my post on why you should volunteer your time helping seniors in your community and you’re eager to help yourself by helping elders. Now you must determine what help you want to provide. This may seem like putting the cart before the horse in that perhaps you should first see what volunteer opportunities are available, but I can assure you, there are so many opportunities available that it’s inevitable something exists that will match your interest. Volunteer opportunities include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Meals on Wheels Volunteer Driver: pick up and deliver hot meals to seniors that have difficulty getting out of their house. Drivers also fill an “eyes and ears” role as their meal drop off provides an opportunity for checking in on their well-being.
- Long-Term Care Ombudsman Volunteer: volunteer your time visiting and advocating for seniors in long-term care settings.
- Yard Maintenance: rake leaves, shovel snow, and winterize the homes of elders in your community; and organize the efforts of others.
- Insurance and Medicare Advocate: work to help seniors determine program eligibility, sort through paperwork, advocate on their behalf, etc.
- Hospice Volunteer: work with the dying and their families. It’s very difficult and very rewarding.
- Volunteer Driver: take seniors that can’t drive to doctor appointments, grocery shopping, etc. Mileage is typically reimbursed if the service is provided through an agency.
- General Companionship: this can be as formal or informal as you like. Everyone is exceptionally busy in today’s world. The person that can sit down for a game of cards or conversation with an elder provides a valuable service to that person.
Where to go to sign up depends to some extent on what you want to do, but I almost always recommend contacting your Area Agency on Aging through the Resources by State page as the place to start. Chances are high these agencies even have volunteer opportunities themselves. They can help you find the agency that best suits your interests. Also on those pages you’ll find contact information for your Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, your state governments Office on Aging (or however they refer to themselves), Alzheimer’s Association chapters, AARP offices (always a good resource) and many more. Call them and tell them what you want to do. It’s their job to help you, and they do it well.