Three Ways Your Senior Community Can Help Others


As the holidays approach way too quickly, seniors in assisted living communities and nursing homes have something extra special to look forward to. No matter how busy everyone gets, family, friends and members of the surrounding community often make extra time to visit and pay special attention to loved ones in senior communities this time of year.

The holidays are also a great time for seniors to spread some good cheer, themselves. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s never too early to start.

Seniors of any age and ability level can help out with charitable giving or outreach events to assist the less fortunate, members of the military and their families, or young children.

Participating in such events empowers seniors; for a demographic that often needs care and assistance of their own, it’s feels good to be on the giving end. In fact, the personal motto of AARP founder Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus was “to serve and not to be served,” and she founded the organization with that credo in mind.

Whether you live in a retirement community, assisted living, nursing home or on your own, here are a few ways you can give back or serve those in need this holiday season… and all year long.

Organize a Baking Party or Cookie Swap
If you’re the activities director in a retirement community, it doesn’t take much to plan this low-cost event in your facility’s kitchen. Gather up some fun, easy-to-make cookie recipes, ingredients, and a group of women (and men) interested in baking.

Plan a second activity night the next day to wrap the cookies in small batches in cellophane or box them up by the dozen. Deliver them to a children’s hospital or a soup kitchen, where the cookies will be appreciated as a special holiday treat delivered with love from the local senior community.

If you’re a caregiver or an independent senior, considering hosting the party, but keep it small. Four or five people in an average home’s kitchen and dining area is plenty.

Spread Good Cheer by Making Music
If your senior community has a music ensemble, consider Christmas caroling around your facility. You may also organize a trip to a local school or children’s hospital, just be sure to stay away from areas where children may be contagious to avoid compromising seniors’ more delicate immune systems.

You can also visit the local shopping mall or airport (make sure to get permission first) to spread holiday cheer with music-making. For an added feel-good bonus, team up with music students in a local school and perform together, young and old.

Help Our Overseas Troops
Just like seniors, our nation’s military and their families are sometimes overlooked as a group in need. Help troops overseas by packaging necessities to ship overseas in care packages.

Don’t be afraid to add something fun like candy or a Beanie Baby-style stuffed animal, too, which often put smiles on the faces of troops and are sometimes given to children in local regions where troops serve.

Some of the necessities and niceties soldiers need include: toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors and shaving cream, deodorant, baby wipes, sunscreen, socks, iPods, headsets, DVDs, energy bars, Girl Scout Cookies and more.

A senior community can take donations from the surrounding community and then package the donations for shipment during a senior community activity night.

Hand-knit hats and scarves are also welcome and are a great project for any senior community knitting circle.

Not in a Retirement Community?
Even if you’re not part of a retirement community, there are many ways you can find to help out during the holidays and year-round. AARP features a “Volunteer Wizard” on its website, which matches people with a volunteer opportunity that fits their ability level and interests.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (866) 662-0435 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.