A female Right at Home caregiver and female senior client wrap holiday presents at a kitchen table A female Right at Home caregiver and female senior client wrap holiday presents at a kitchen table

Giving Tuesday Is November 28: Consider These Opportunities To Give or Volunteer

An aging America finds itself with a record 60 million-plus residents age 65 or older. That’s a lot of individual and collected wisdom, wealth and experience that seniors, whether working or retired, have to offer. Older adults desiring to make a difference via financial or volunteer contributions have plenty of choices.

Are You an Older Adult Looking for Something Positive To Do With Your Time, Talent or Treasure?

According to the National Institutes of Health, older adults receive positivity from donating to causes important to them. Here are some quick tips if you are looking for ways to participate in Giving Tuesday on November 28:

  • Do your homework. Because there’s no shortage of organizations eager to accept people’s money, seniors looking to support charitable groups or nonprofits through their pocketbooks should proceed with caution. One way is to be sure you give to reputable operations. If you are not familiar with a nonprofit you plan to support, an organization such as Charity Navigator can provide trustworthiness grades to help guide informed decision-making. Other organizations such as CharityWatch, GiveWell, and GuideStar can provide similar advice.
  • Ask those you trust. Seniors might want to ask trustworthy family, friends and associates for their giving experiences and recommendations. But it’s understandable if seniors want to keep their interests under wraps since donating is a highly personal, private matter.
  • Find a cause that means something to you. Charity and nonprofit giving options abound, so experts advise that on top of doing some due diligence, find those agencies or causes that most closely align with personal interests and values. Charitable gifts are generally tax deductible, but it’s best to ask an accountant to be sure.
  • Pay attention to red flags. Most nonprofits make it easy to give. Start by visiting an organization’s website and reading the nonprofit’s mission. Sometimes, its annual report is available. There should also be a donation or giving page to read more. If something doesn’t look or sound right or if you ask questions and don’t find satisfactory answers, move on until you find what works for you.

The Choice of Where To Contribute Is Many

There is no shortage of organizations that need help to care for those in their charge. Here are some areas you can consider:

  • Humanitarian giving is a big segment of charitable donations. Feeding America is one of many efforts addressing the nation’s hunger problem. If there are nonprofits in your community you would like to help, such as those that focus on hunger, homelessness, poverty, gun violence, or human trafficking, go online to find shelters, pantries, safe houses, and remedial programs that support individuals and families with resources, healing and stability.
  • Some seniors choose to get involved with organizations whose services have helped or are helping them or their loved ones with a disease or chronic condition, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease, lung disease, cancer, diabetes, cerebral palsy, or others, including care centers that provide support.
  • If an older person admires an arts organization in their community, they may consider supporting it beyond purchasing tickets or memberships. This can be through a financial gift. If the senior is a Public Broadcasting Service or NPR fan, they may want to give to a local public media affiliate as a show of appreciation or support, perhaps even becoming a programming sponsor or underwriter.
  • Refugee resettlement agencies are often looking for donations and volunteers to assist in the work of resettling individuals and families displaced by war, reprisals, famines and natural disasters.
  • Older adults who attend a place of worship certainly have a ready donor opportunity, whether contributing to operations, building programs, or special events.
  • A simple way for seniors to support the nation’s military personnel is by donating to the USO, whose mission is to help America’s military service members stay connected to family, home and country throughout their service by boosting morale, sending care packages, or other specialized programs.

Volunteering Opportunities Are Plentiful

Whether seniors have the means to make financial contributions or not, they can always volunteer. Many organizations recognize that seniors have more than just treasure to give. They have invaluable time and talent as well. It depends on the organization and its needs, but a senior volunteer can fill any number of tasks, from office functions like helping with a mailing to being on a committee to offer their wisdom and advice.

Not only is volunteering another tangible way of giving back or paying forward, but experts also say it’s good to help prevent social isolation. It helps with mental, emotional and physical health because it helps keep seniors active, engaged and feeling useful. All any older adult wants, after all, is a sense of purpose. Having a job to do, even on a volunteer basis, can provide the motivation some seniors lose when the nest goes empty, or they retire or lose a spouse.

Here are some examples of ways to share your time:

  • Staffing Events – If it’s an organization that presents events attended by live audiences, such as performing arts or athletics, then taking tickets, ushering, or operating the refreshment counter may be ways to pitch in.
  • Mentoring – If the idea of mentoring someone is appealing, seniors should check with the National Mentoring Resource Center for opportunities where they live. Big Brothers Big Sisters is a national mentoring program with chapters across the country. Other programs, such as TeamMates, are regional.
  • Habitat for Humanity – Older people who like using their hands might want to volunteer for a Habitat for Humanity build crew. Those who love nature and growing things can give their green thumb or strong back to a community garden.
  • Parks – For seniors who love the outdoors, volunteering at a local, state or national park as a greeter, guide or educator might be just the right thing to do.
  • Delivering Meals – Older adults who still drive might want to volunteer as Meals on Wheels or other elder-serving food delivery service drivers. It can be a great way to get out and about and help others at the same time.
  • Foster Grandparent – Seniors who love children may want to investigate foster grandparent programs. A commitment to being a foster grandparent may be just right for some and too much for others.
  • Schools – Schools need all the help they can get from the communities they serve. It’s worth seniors calling schools near them to ask about programs or opportunities to meet with students at lunch or other activities, to help teachers in their classrooms, to tutor children in specific subject areas, or to chaperone field trips.
  • Child Care – Seniors who enjoy caring for babies should ask if child care centers in their area need volunteers to hold and rock infants. Or seniors could check whether their church offers a day care program or Sunday school program.
  • Animal Shelters – Pet lovers might inquire about volunteering at animal shelters.
  • Still haven’t found something you’re interested in? Search for inspiration at AARP’s Create the Good.

Time, Talent or Treasure … Find the Right Fit for You

Wherever you volunteer, give financial support, or contribute in other ways, experts say to just find the right fit for you. If you feel good about what you’re doing and are valued by the people you’re helping, then it’s a win-win. But if someone volunteering their time or talent ever feels overworked, unappreciated or otherwise exploited as free labor, then it’s time to part ways.

How Right at Home Can Help

Right at Home’s in-home care services can provide homemaking/companionship, personal care, and other specialized services to ensure seniors can age safely at home. Our trained/bonded caregivers can help with everything from household tasks to assistance with bathing, grooming and eating. We also provide memory care and assistance with chronic conditions. Find Right at Home services in your area and speak with an aging expert to get more information.

Need Ongoing Family Caregiving Tips?

Right at Home offers a monthly email newsletter, Caring Right at Home, full of information, advice and helpful ideas as you embark on this aging journey with your loved one. Subscribe today to have it delivered directly to your email inbox.

Author Leo Adam Biga

Leo Adam Biga is a veteran freelance journalist and author who writes stories about people, their passions and their magnificent obsessions. The Omaha native and University of Nebraska at Omaha graduate is the author of “Alexander Payne: His Journey in Film.” Follow his work at https://www.facebook.com/LeoAdamBiga.

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