Caring for the elderly in the community is an natural inclination for many. But demanding schedules leave little time to help out seniors in need. Why not use Thanksgiving and Christmas vacation times for supporting seniors during the holidays?
During these holiday times, where cold loneliness often replaces warm cheer, isolation can be debilitating. Sadly, around 12 million seniors live alone. And 1 in 5 seniors do not drive, which largely contributes to isolation.
Isolation deeply decreases the quality of life in seniors leading to depression and, sadly, sometimes suicide. Seniors who live alone also struggle with household and outdoor chores. Some find it difficult care for themselves and even feed themselves.
Needless to say, there are no shortage of opportunities for supporting seniors during the holidays. Families can work together to use their vacation time to volunteer in various capacities in their community. Donating food and clothing to local charities and churches support local seniors who may be struggling through the cold months.
Five Ideas for Supporting Seniors During the Holidays
- Volunteer or Give to Meals on Wheels
- Donate your lunch money. Did you know that the average American spends $20 per week getting lunch in restaurants? Consider packing up your leftovers once a month and donating that $20 to the community of homebound seniors that we serve.
- Speak up for seniors. By contacting our elected representatives in Washington, you are making their voices heard. Call your Senators and Representative in Washington and urge them to increase funding for Older Americans Act Nutrition Programs. Let us know if you need help!
- Your words matter. Share your MOWC story. Social media can be a powerful tool in painting a picture for your friends, family, and colleagues. Post a Facebook status or send a Tweet to let your network know how much Meals on Wheels means to you. #seniorscantwait
- Become our partner. If you work for a socially responsible company, inquire about sitting on our board. Inquire with HR about employee giving or volunteer engagement. Or better yet, let’s talk about how Meals on Wheels Chicago can partner with your company. Collaboration is our specialty.
- Fight social isolation. Did you know that nearly 30% of seniors in America live alone and that being socially isolated is detrimental to good health? If you have a team of 10 or more, volunteer to serve lunch or play bingo at one of Chicago’s senior centers. For a nominal fee, Meals on Wheels Chicago will schedule with a center and ensure your group has a meaningful and enjoyable experience. (From www.mealsonwheelschicago.com)
- Contact local Nursing Homes
- Research local nursing homes and give them a call. Ask if there are any opportunities to assist seniors either at a crafting time or sing Christmas Carols with them.
- Gather your family or a group of families and dedicate a set of times during the holiday months to spend time with the seniors.
- Reach out to Neighbors
- Often times, we don’t have to look far to help! Contact neighbors and elderly friends to ask if you can help with specific holiday chores.
- Some ideas include: raking their fall leaves throughout Thanksgiving week, decorating their homes with Christmas lights, setting up their Christmas tree, driving them to shop, or simply taking them on a fun outing to the movies.
- Reach out to family caregivers
- Unpaid caregivers work tirelessly to care for family members as well as work paid jobs.
- Giving these individuals breaks contributes to their overall well-being, thus contributing to the care of a senior.
- Volunteer at local food kitchens and charities
- Local charities such as Dupage Pads
- Food banks and church soup kitchens