It doesn’t just HAVE to be for seniors, many of us have experienced it with a little bit of empty nest syndrome. We spend far too much time in our lives creating lists, and then checking boxes off of those lists. Suddenly we get some free time: vacation, kids go off to school, or we retire, and we don’t know what to do with ourselves.
Since I’m passionate about Seniors, I’ll gear this blog more towards ways to fill up some of our beloved seniors free time. Often, Seniors can be limited by mobility or energy, but a lot of volunteer programs are already geared toward seniors, and can allow our loved ones to use their great intellect and pull from their life experiences to do what they are passionate about. Below I’ll list some of the senior volunteer services I have heard about.
Through AmeriCorps, there are a multitude of volunteer programs geared towards adults. Within the SeniorCorps program alone and within Oregon, there have been over 6,000 volunteers over 26 programs.
RSVP. This is a large volunteer network for people aged 55 years and older. This means you don’t even need to be a “senior.” Yes I said it, over 55 isn’t “old.” RSVP offers chances for people to mentor disadvantaged youth, organize neighborhood watch programs, teach immigrants English, or help victims of natural disasters. My father loved to be hands on and my goodness he would’ve loved to get in there and fix things for those in need. How many of us have mothers or sisters who are retired teachers and have a WEALTH of knowledge about English, or other subjects that could be passed on.
Foster Grandparents. This is an opportunity for those again, over 55 years of age, to assist children and youth within their community. Within this program, our seniors can mentor troubled children, or provide care for premature infants or disabled children. I can’t say that I know many people who don’t just MELT when they are around babies. If your loved one fits into this category, take a peek into the foster grandparents program.
There are also a multitude of local volunteer opportunities through the Marion County Retired and Senior Volunteer program and the AARP. There are opportunities to teach financial literacy classes, teach gardening classes (I’m going to estimate this class would be right up the alley of about 75% of our mothers and grandmothers), become volunteer quilters, become GED tutors, and opportunities to volunteer at local libraries. The opportunities really range with these groups, and can help your loved one be more active, indulge in what they love, or just pass the time.
The benefits of many of these programs is the diversity of options, again catering to what your loved one may want to spend their free time doing. Many elderly develop stress over the idea of scheduling some permanent type of “work” each week, but with most of these programs, you can volunteer once a week, once a month, or 40 hours a week.
Most of these programs don’t offer monetary gain for the volunteers, but they do offer free training, and some even offer supplemental insurance- so look into that!
The difficulty for many seniors is finding these outlets. Now that I’ve mentioned some of them, take your internet savvy self to look at each of them, decide which one has the best outlets for those that you love, and make some phone calls to help point your beloved senior in the right direction! Below I’ll put up some links for the programs I’ve listed above.