Make it a holly jolly Christmas for a senior who may not be feeling in the holiday spirit this year. Whether it is because of lost friendships, health decline, an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, little family interaction or financial instability, there are a lot of older individuals who could use a little extra encouragement and gifts this winter.
In fact, it’s not just help they could use at this one single season of the year, many seniors need assistance throughout the year. The National Council on Aging estimates that there are over 25 million Americans aged 60 years or older are economically insecure and living at or below the federal poverty level.
So make this Christmas your opportunity to get involved. It doesn’t have to be a huge, over-the-top effort. It can be something as simple as buying an extra gift or stopping by someone’s home with a special meal. There are many ways to volunteer and help seniors, including:
St. Nicholas isn’t the only giver of gifts around the North Shore. Each December, several businesses set up beautiful holiday displays with paper ornaments that have the name of a senior and a suggestion for a gift. All you have to do is pick up an ornament, buy a present for the senior on there and return it to the business. You don’t even have to wrap it! The volunteers with Be Santa to a Senior do all the wrapping and distributing—so if your forte is gift wrapping, this could be another opportunity for you to get involved.
With two million volunteers nationwide, Meals on Wheels truly makes a difference to a wide range of senior citizens and individuals with disabilities. There are many ways to help with Meals on Wheels Chicago, from donating money to playing bingo and distributing food. Organized by the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services, the Holiday Meals program (which serves meals to over 5,000 homebound seniors on six federal holidays) is a special opportunity this season.
- Make Shoe Boxes for Seniors
There are a variety of shoebox projects all around the nation, striving to encourage individuals of all ages and economic situations, even seniors. This season, consider filling an extra box for a senior to bring some extra holiday cheer to those who may be living away from family. There are all kinds of small items—from home goods (such as towels, toiletries, small planters) to cards and games and even clothing items (hats, gloves, scarves, socks)—that make wonderful gifts.
Housing Opportunities & Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.) has been serving low-income seniors for 35 years, only because volunteers are willing to donate time, talents and money to help. Their aim is to help seniors stay independent and be part of their community by providing a range of support services, which include a home upkeep and repair program, shopping bus, intergenerational affordable houses and a moving program. They offer wonderfully unique ways to serve our seniors.
The Chicago Chapter of Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly has been striving to alleviate loneliness among elders since 1959. Individuals and families can get involved just by visiting a senior and getting to know them. Volunteer opportunities range from visiting volunteers, phone visits and the family visiting program to in-home celebrations, program assistants and holiday gift giving. Throughout December, volunteers have the opportunity to deliver gifts selected for specific elders and spend an hour together.
These opportunities are just the beginning. There are several others, including the Senior Citizen Project, The Chicago Lighthouse, and the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program, that you can get involved with to help those who are older in our community.
Working in Highland Park home care, we are able to see how a little help can go a long way—especially for seniors. As a home care agency, serving the elderly is something we very much enjoy and take pride in. So if you are in search of a little extra help this holiday season or seeking out a “home care agency near me,” contact us at 877-262-1223 or firstname.lastname@example.org.