Ways to Help the Elderly During the Holiday Season


We’ve compiled volunteer ideas for a variety of ways to offer a hand, an ear, or skills to the elderly. Even giving a few hours a week, will make a difference between a recipient’s feelings of sadness to anticipation and hope.

The most meaningful thing a volunteer can do is spend time with another by sharing life’s experiences, teaching a skill, sharing a meal, offering a ride, and helping where needed.

Help an Elderly Friend or Neighbor

  • Do chores
    You don’t need to be a skilled professional to do things around the house like raking leaves, shovel snow, change a light bulb, or sweep a patio. Offer to help your elderly neighbor with some work around the house. They are sure to have projects that they need help with but don’t have the physical ability to do anymore.
  • Offer transportation
    Many elderly people no longer drive which keeps them isolated and alone. Make it a weekly ritual to run an errand and bring them along so they have a chance to get out. Take them to visit a friend or see a movie.
  • Help a family caregiver
    Give respite to a family caregiver by giving them some time away from an elderly loved one.

Volunteer at a Senior Care Facility

  • Find local facilities
    You’ll be surprised at how many nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and adult day centers are in your area that would love some additional help.
  • Provide exercise programs
    Exercise programs are a fun way to stay active for people of all ages.
  • Create and design social events
    Examples include music, crafts, dancing, games, parties, pet therapy, trips, cooking, gardening or reminiscing
  • Coordinate educational sessions
    Sessions can teach a new skill, review a topic of interest, or stimulate their brains.
  • Serve meals or snacks
    Meal or snack time is a great time to help the facility and have some social time with residents.

General Ways to Help

  • Create a gift basket
    Gift baskets are especially nice around the holidays when the gift basket may be the only gift the senior receives. However, these baskets can spread cheer all year long. Ideas include snuggies, socks or slippers, specialty food items, wireless headphones, hair salon gift certificates, electronic picture frames, and reading items (books, lights, magnifiers, puzzles, etc). Be sure to include a hand written note or card.
  • Visit with seniors
    Plan ahead with a phone call to select the best time to visit. Learn how the person wants to spend time with you: reading a book, playing a board game, learning to use technology, watching a video, or sharing a baked treat. Anyone of these will brighten a resident’s day.
  • Bring your well-behaved dog for pet therapy
    For many older seniors, they’ve been without a pet for years and yearn for the loving attention.
  • Teach technology
    Help the adult learn how to Skype with a family member or to send an email to a friend.
  • Listen and learn from the residents
    You’ll find facilities filled with stories of veterans, former teachers, homemakers, and social workers. Listen to them and learn about all the things they did. Record it for them and send it to their family for a keepsake.

Ways to Help the Elderly During the Holiday Season

Where to Find More Volunteer Opportunities

  • Elder Helpers – They match volunteers with local elders in need. Sign up to help in ways that align with your interests and skills.
  • AARP’s Create the Good – Connects you with volunteer opportunities to share your life experiences, skills and passions in your community.
  • Senior Companions – For volunteers who are 55+ to sign up to help with daily tasks in the home.
  • Volunteers of America – Services and programs promote health and independence for the elderly.
  • Programs for the Elderly – A website the lists ideas to help the elderly in your community.
  • Meals on Wheels – Donate or volunteer to deliver meals.
  • Volunteer Match – Find a cause that lights you up. Sign up with a nonprofit that needs you.
  • Volunteer Nation – Helps teens and young adults find places to volunteer.
  • Doing Good Together – A program that connects meaningful, memorable ways to weave compassion into your family’s routines.
  • The United Way – find an opportunity near you.