The holiday season is the season for giving. Sure, giving gifts to friends and family is a huge part of this — but it's a super important time to give back to those in need. Senior citizens need as much help as they can get. Whether they need a warm meal or just some company to keep them from getting too lonely during the holidays, there are so many ways that people can pool their resources together. For those wondering how to help the elderly this holiday season, look no further. There are so many ways to help senior citizens in need throughout the month of December.
During the holiday season, loneliness can feel incredibly strong — and for senior citizens, this loneliness can feel a thousand times worse. One 2009 study found that there is a significant relationship between depression and loneliness in the elderly population. But the study found that with more social interaction and sociability, it's possible that their feelings could be improved.
The facts are out there. According to NPR, one 2012 study found that elderly people who felt lonely, regardless of whether or not they had depression, were at a heightened risk of death. Dr. Carla Perissinotto, a geriatrician and researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, wrote in the study, according to NPR:
"If someone reports feeling lonely, they are more likely to lose their independence and are at a greater risk of dying."
A great way to help combat this loneliness is by spending time with a senior citizen, or donating your resources to make them feel a little less alone. Here are just a few ways you can help:
"Adopt" A Senior Citizen
Yes, it is possible to "adopt" a senior citizen — but not in the literal sense. Although there is no legally binding paperwork involved in adopting a senior citizen the idea still stands — families or individuals can sign up to provide services and goods to match the needs for seniors who are in need. This website is a great place to start if you live in a major city and are interested in volunteering with the elderly.
Alternatively, Be A Santa To A Senior is a program that helps match people to nursing homes and participating businesses to a senior. All you have to do is enter your zip code on the website, find a local business participating in the program, and purchase items for your senior citizen. This way you're ensuring that a senior has a present under the tree.
But one of the biggest things you can do is call nursing homes and assisted care facilities in your area and ask how you can help. SeniorServ, a non-profit based in Orange County, California, delivers gift bags to the elderly every holiday season. And if this program isn't in your area, it's possible to start one up in your area.
It's the little things that matter — and buying presents or spending time with the elderly definitely adds up.
Volunteer At A Nursing Home
If you're short on money but have plenty of time, consider volunteering at your local nursing home this holiday season. Although it might not be a glamorous option, it's a great way to spend time with the elderly this holiday season.
Most nursing homes have a volunteer and outreach coordinator, according to Senior Community Services. Pick a local nursing home, give them a call, and see what you can do around their facility — whether it's playing bingo or eating lunch with them. Although it might not seem like a lot, these nursing homes will thank you for your help.
Send Holiday Cards
If you're at a loss for time and money, sending holiday cards to the elderly is a great way to bring them company, even from thousands of miles away. There are so many charities that you can consider donating cards to — Project Giving Kids suggests sending them to homebound seniors in Los Angeles, California where the cards will be delivered with a warm meal.
Color A Smile allows volunteers to print out and color a specific coloring page, which will then be sent out to senior citizens for the holidays. Ohio based charity, Love of the Elderly is accepting donations for letters, too.
But if the options aren't your speed, Volunteer Match has plenty of other charities and nursing homes to choose to donate your holiday cards to. And if you want your donations to go to a local effort, call your local nursing home or assisted living facility and see if they're taking donations to drop off at their offices. Letting someone know that you care can do so much for their happiness during the holidays.
Donate Your Money
If you're strapped for time, but have a little bit of cash to spare to those in need this holiday season, consider donating money to charities that help the elderly. The Salvation Army serves seniors by putting donations to providing classes, activities, and residences to the elderly — and you can donate to the Salvation Army here.
In addition to the Salvation Army, there are also local charities to help senior citizens in a specific area. The Foundation for Senior Care is a California based charity, which puts donations towards providing the elderly with rides to the doctor. And donations to New York City based City Meals provides isolated seniors with holiday means. A cool donation of $103 provides 14 Sunday meals for vulnerable older New Yorkers.
But if you're a fan of knowing who you'll be donating to, GoFundMe has campaigns also dedicated to helping the elderly this holiday season. One person, based in the United Kingdom, is raising money to provide a Christmas dinner to local senior citizens. Another person is raising money to assist the elderly in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic this holiday season.
No matter your means, there is some way to help the elderly community this holiday season and spread the holiday cheer.
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