5 Ways for Children to Volunteer with Senior Citizens

Make a Senior Smile Today


One of the greatest gifts you can give is your time…
In 2010, there were 40.3 million adults over the age of 65 living in the U.S. This number is only expected to grow, which means that there are plenty of older adults to share your days with. Many senior citizens do not have children or grandchildren to visit them and their spouses or friends may not be around to socialize or keep them company. Because of this, many senior citizens would appreciate a visit from families with children. Hearing a child’s laughter and seeing a child’s smiling face may be just the thing to make them feel special.

Even if you don’t have an older adult in your life, you can still make someone’s day. We have ideas for five great ways to volunteer as a family. With these ideas, you will be guaranteed to make an older adult feel special and appreciated for all the good that they have done over the years.
If you know of an older adult who lives alone in your neighborhood, you and your children may wish to surprise him or her with some help around the house. Many senior citizens enjoy the independence of living alone in their own home, but there are plenty of projects that they would enjoy being helped with. Visit a neighbor and help them with these tedious tasks that can easily be forgotten about:
1. Help with Yardwork:
  • Mow the lawn while your children pull weeds around the house.
  •  Help with watering the flowers.
  • Pick up sticks or large branches in the yard and haul them away.
  • Clean out the gutters and have your kids read a story or go on a walk with your neighbor.
  • Dust and vacuum the house.
  • Clean out the kitchen cupboards and drawers.
  •  Clean out the closets and sort out items to donate to charity.
  •  Clean out the garage and dispose of any unwanted items, including any unwanted vehicles.
2. Visit a Retirement Home:

  • Bring in a collection of games to enjoy together. Ideas include Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly, Life, Apples to Apples, Clue, Yahtzee, Sorry, or Scattergories.
  •  Bring in movies that both kids and adults can enjoy. Consider movies such as Up, The Wizard of Oz, Finding Nemo, Mary Poppins, and Frozen.
  •  Help residents put together a family tree, scrapbook, or photo album. Interview residents and include their questions and answers in the scrapbook.
  •  If your children are old enough to navigate the internet, spend the day teaching residents how to use computers and the internet.

3. Start a Book Club:

  • Start a book club with your older neighbors around the neighborhood.
  • Start a book club with their grandparents and their friends.
  • Start one at your local retirement community. Walk around the community and ask others to join in. Take turns reading books at different times. Share your different point of views.

4. Ask Questions:

You and your children probably wish you knew more about your parents, grandparents, great grandparents, or older relatives. What were their hobbies? What did they want to be when they “grew up?” Who was their first date? This information is important for children to have and it’s something that they will cherish as they grow older. As a family, put together a list of interview questions for a senior citizen in your life. Ask them questions such as:
  •  What is your first memory?
  • How did your parents meet?
  • What did you like most about your childhood home?
  • How did your family celebrate holidays when you were a child? What is your favorite holiday memory?
  • How did you meet your spouse? What did you like most about him or her
  • Ask them about their wedding day and honeymoon. Ask to see photos of the wedding or any special items that they have saved over the years.
  •   Ask about their interests and hobbies.
  •   Have them explain their experiences as a parent (if they are).

5. Create homemade baskets:

  • Put together gift baskets or gift bags filled with cookies, candies, baking mixes, jams, crackers, and other fun snacks. Bring them to a retirement community and have your children distribute them amongst the residents.
  • Create a gift basket with fitness tools to encourage seniors to stay fit and strong. Light weights, stretch bands, a gentle exercise video, or even a yoga mat might be good ideas.
  • Create a gift basket with different types of stationary, such as notepads, pens, paper, greeting cards, tape, and folders.
  • Put together a game basket with puzzles, word finds, and board games.
  • Make a gift bag with craft supplies, yarn, sewing materials, and patterns that can be used for knitting or crocheting.

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