Build Bridges Between Generations by Volunteering With Elders

Build Bridges Between Generations by Volunteering With Elders

Community volunteer work can become an intergenerational opportunity when families commit to engaging with local elders. By connecting with local organizations, elder communities, and volunteer communication networks, families can enrich their own lives and the lives of others. Donations of time, labor, skills, and more can help to provide support to community members, and can help to build bridges between generations.

May marks the national celebration of Older Americans Month, a month-long awareness-raising event meant to shed light on important issues facing older adults. In order to acknowledge such challenges, as well as the many contributions that elders have made to their communities, families can seek out volunteer opportunities that connect them with local elders. Older community members can benefit from everything from social visits to housework and meal delivery, meaning that engaging with elders has numerous entry points. Families can consider their specific interests, skills, and abilities when seeking out elder-centric volunteer opportunities. 

Online network Elder Helpers connects volunteers to elders in their own communities easily through a volunteer database. Volunteers can add themselves to the database, allowing those seeking support to locate them based on location, availability, and interests. More structured volunteer opportunities may be available at local nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and senior housing communities; families can locate such opportunities by connecting directly with their own neighborhood elder communities.

While teens and adults have many easily identifiable specific skills to share as volunteers, younger participants can offer supportive skills in more general ways. Serving as a friendly visitor for someone who may not have family or close friends nearby is a fun and meaningful way to engage in service learning. Friendly visitors can plan projects, play games, or learn with and/or from local elders, helping to build a meaningful connection. Find out more about things to keep in mind while volunteering with seniors from the AARP’s Create the Good.

Reader suggestions for local intergenerational opportunities shed light on specific ways to connect with local elders – including everything from gardening to nursing home visits. Check out this recent Mass Appeal segment to find even more opportunities for forging intergenerational connections through community engagement!

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