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Marissa Salvesen

By: Marissa Salvesen on November 17th, 2023

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Giving Thanks by Giving Back: Volunteer Opportunities for Older Adults

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Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on gratitude, and what better way to express it than by giving back to the community? For older adults, volunteering can be a fulfilling and enriching experience. As the seasonal holiday of giving thanks approaches, we’re highlighting some of the many volunteer opportunities available for seniors, including the benefits of active participation in community service.



The Benefits of Volunteering for Seniors


Volunteering isn't just for younger generations. In fact, for seniors, it can be a profoundly enriching experience. It offers a range of benefits, from improving physical and mental well-being to fostering social connections. In the spirit of identifying all the wonderful things to be thankful for this season, let’s explore the numerous advantages that volunteering brings to older adults, and reflect on how this selfless act can bring fulfillment and purpose to their lives.


Promotes Physical & Mental Well-being: Engaging in volunteer activities encourages physical activity, reducing the risk of health issues associated with a sedentary lifestyle. It also stimulates mental acuity, providing cognitive benefits.


Fosters Social Connection: Volunteering offers opportunities for seniors to meet new people, form meaningful connections, and deter feelings of isolation or loneliness, which can be particularly prevalent during the holiday season.


Provides a Sense of Purpose: Being part of a larger cause and contributing to the well-being of others can instill a sense of purpose and fulfillment, boosting self-esteem and overall well-being.


Combats Depression & Anxiety: Acts of kindness and helping others have been shown to have a positive impact on mental health, reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.


Strengthens the Community: Senior volunteers play a crucial role in building and strengthening the community fabric. Their unique experiences and skills contribute to a diverse and vibrant volunteer force.


Volunteer Opportunities Tailored for Seniors


As Thanksgiving draws near, many seniors seek meaningful ways to give back to their communities and share in the spirit of gratitude. Fortunately, there are numerous volunteer opportunities perfectly suited for older adults during this special time of year. No matter the cause, these initiatives not only benefit those in need but also offer seniors a chance to experience the profound joy of making a difference. Following are some specific volunteer opportunities tailored to the unique strengths and interests of seniors, providing a roadmap for a fulfilling and purpose-driven Thanksgiving season.


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Food Drives & Meal Deliveries: One particularly fitting option is partnering with local food banks or community organizations to collect and distribute food to those in need. Seniors can participate by helping with collection drives or assembling and delivering meal packages.


Assisting in Senior Centers or Nursing Homes: Spending time with fellow seniors in care facilities, engaging in activities like reading, playing games, or simply offering companionship, can brighten the holidays for those who may not have family nearby.


Organizing Crafts & Activities: Hosting craft sessions or organizing recreational activities at senior living communities or community centers can bring joy and a sense of camaraderie to residents.


Supporting Homeless Shelters: Volunteering at homeless shelters by preparing and serving meals, organizing clothing drives, or assisting with administrative tasks can make a significant impact on the lives of those less fortunate.


Participating in Environmental Cleanup Efforts: Joining local cleanup initiatives, such as park or beach cleanups, can be a great way for seniors to contribute to the betterment of their community while enjoying the outdoors.


Getting Involved in Spiritual Ministries: Whatever faith a senior might ascribe to, there are often organized ministries dedicated to serving the community. Be it through prayer circles, cooking efforts, sewing projects, or other ways to give back, active participation in these types of groups can be a fulfilling way to give of one’s time and talents.


An Environment that Supports Senior Volunteerism


No matter where a senior resides, there are ample ways to give thanks by giving back this time of year. But often, the environment in which one lives has an impact on access to and support for engaging in these types of volunteer activities. 


A senior living community can provide a supportive environment that actively encourages and facilitates volunteer opportunities for residents. Communities that are well-connected within their local areas often have established relationships with various charitable organizations and community groups, fostering a network that enables seniors to easily find and participate in volunteering activities that align with their interests and abilities.


In addition, senior living communities offer a structured and safe setting for seniors to engage in volunteer work. They provide resources such as transportation and coordination efforts, which can be particularly valuable for seniors who may face mobility or logistical challenges.


Ultimately, being part of a senior living community fosters a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose among residents. This sense of community can inspire and motivate seniors to get involved in volunteer initiatives, as they witness the positive impact they can collectively make on their surrounding neighborhoods.


Older adults in senior living communities have a unique opportunity to give of themselves. Engaging in volunteer activities not only benefits the recipients of their kindness but also enriches the lives of the volunteers themselves. By participating in these meaningful endeavors, seniors can foster a sense of purpose, connect with their community, and leave a positive mark on the world around them. This Thanksgiving, let's celebrate the power of gratitude and the joy of giving back.


To find out how United Methodist Homes provides a wealth of offerings and opportunities to support the health and well-being of our residents, contact us today or schedule a complimentary visit now


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About Marissa Salvesen

My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!

Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.