Survivors of the Great Depression, honored war veterans, grandmothers that can teach us how to bake the perfect pie, and grandfathers with great stories of days gone by; these are the elderly. Volunteering at a nursing home is an incredible act of kindness — and you get something out of it too, namely, their wisdom, perspective on life, and gratitude.
Nursing homes aren’t generally known for being fun places. And even with the best ones, the elderly get lonely and long for company and kindness. We can do little things that will have a big impact.
Nursing Home Volunteer Opportunities
Do you enjoy playing cards, dancing, decorating, putting together puzzles, having good conversations, or supporting someone who needs a shoulder to lean on? If you answered yes, there’s a nursing home with elderly folks waiting for you.
- Bingo Volunteer: Elderly love a good game of bingo. As a bingo volunteer, you can call the numbers and help people find the called numbers on their cards.
- Makeovers and Manicures: Some nursing homes take the elderly out to have their hair and nails done. Unfortunately, some residents can’t leave. It’s a massive confidence boost for anyone to have their hair and nails done.
- Tidying Up: If you enjoy straightening up and cleaning, you can make beds, keep residents’ rooms clean, and even decorate.
- Reading: Reading to the elderly is such a sweet thing. Some of their eyesight isn’t what it once was, and to hear their favorite stories is warming.
- Crafts: Make crafts with or for the residents. Bulletin boards decorated with cards, photos, and mementos can add flair to a dull and boring room. Lighten things up with and for them. It helps them feel at home.
Simple interactions can be the greatest acts of kindness. Be the reason they smile.
Requirements for volunteering in a nursing home vary greatly, even within the borders of one city. Individual homes have their own activities, programs, and set of rules. The easiest way to determine the requirements (and what’s needed) is to contact the Activities Director.
Some volunteer positions require a small amount of training. If you have kids in high school, they can also join you in volunteering.
Benefits of Being A Nursing Home Volunteer
Volunteering at a nursing home is rewarding. You’re almost guaranteed to make friends. They can teach you a thing or three about life. Not only can you make friends, but you can also improve the lives of the people you encounter.
Moving away from home and losing a lot of your independence isn’t easy. Allowing them to share their knowledge can help residents feel like they still have a vital purpose in life.
At the most, 50 percent of nursing home residents get regular visitors. Many residents don’t have spouses or close relatives to care for them. Oftentimes, their family members have to work full-time and can’t make it to visit regularly. As a volunteer, you could reduce the number of lonely residents by offering a few hours of your day. There are various ways to pop in and spread kindness throughout a nursing home.
- Bring the residents flowers and live plants. Adding a card adds a personal touch and a lot of sentiment.
- There might already be a game time or game night at the facility you volunteer at. However, elderly residents love playing cards and board games. If the facility has games set up, ask to join. If they don’t, maybe you can get one started.
- Learn from the elderly and offer to teach them. Maybe bring a laptop and teach them how to use social media etc. If they enjoy painting or crafts, offer to teach them something new.
- Be a pen pal. Even though you’ll be visiting the facility, everyone loves to receive mail. You can even get modern with it and send emails.
Outside of volunteering at a nursing home, there are a wealth of Kindness Bombs to be dropped for the elderly in your community. Little things like offering to plant/weed their gardens, rake their leaves or shovel their snow, wash their vehicles, carry their groceries (or shop for them), walk their dog and so much more. Kindness counts!