As we age, one of the biggest threats to our independence is social isolation. And the need to keep seniors mentally engaged in their communities has never been greater.
Connecting with seniors provides a meaningful—and mutual—learning experience—and it doesn’t take much. Here are three things you can do to connect:
1. Be a good neighbour
You can be part of a “natural system of social support” which means you’re getting involved not because it’s your job, but because you genuinely care about your neighbours. For instance, if you’re going to the grocery store, pop by to check in on a senior down the street to see if he or she could use a carton of milk.
2. Leverage your skills
Think about what you do best and use your skills as a way to get involved. Great at knitting? Start a club at a local seniors’ residence or community centre. If you’re an accountant, set up a financial planning clinic for older people. Using your own interests as a starting point for volunteering makes the experience more meaningful for everyone.
3. Strike the right balance
It’s not always about doing things for seniors; it’s about doing things with them. Often the best relationships start with providing a service (such as shopping, yard work, minor repairs or transportation) in order to develop a more meaningful relationship. These types of services help build rapport and from there, it can be about spending time together doing puzzles, talking, having tea, or going for a walk.
Want to help the seniors in your neighbourhood?
Contact Volunteer Alberta, search your local area and find out if there are volunteers needed to provide services to seniors, including light yard work, transportation, snow shovelling and regular social visits.