June 7, 2015

9 fun ways to serve the elderly with your children

(this post is inspired by the Virtual Kindness Summer Camp)

I know that serving the elderly is talked about a lot, but there is a real need for it! I work a couple of nights a week at an independent living facility and I know how much it means to each of our residents each time someone comes to visit or volunteer.  Most of these people are widowed, and often don't have very many family members that live close by.

Before I get to the ways you can serve them, I want to give you a little extra help...

The first thing you need to think about is who do you know that is older (and I use that term loosely) who could use some help or a boost.  It could be a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, or even a neighbor.  They don't even have to live close to you for you to serve them (see ideas below).  If you don't know of anyone personally, retirement centers love any help they can get.  

(If you are interested in volunteering at a retirement center, see this post from Pennies of Time.  She has some perfect tips for coordinating it!)

Second, if you are serving with your children, a great way to introduce this topic to them is by reading a book.  There are many great books, but one of my favorites is:

Third, you need to decide the best way to help that person.  If possible, include your child in deciding how.  You can ask them for ideas, or give them a couple of options to pick from.

Now, here are some easy ideas for serving any older person (either living at home or at a retirement center):

1.  Heart Attack
(No, not that kind of heart attack!)
A heart attack, in this case, is where you cut out hearts.  You can write notes of encouragement, love notes, or draw pictures on them.  You can tape them on someone's door (be sure to use tape that won't damage the door).  You can either ring the doorbell and run, or just leave it for them to find it on their door.  You can do this on someone's house, or on their door at a retirement center.  If they live far away, you can put the hearts in a box or an envelope and mail it to them.  Who wouldn't want to receive a box of love in the mail?!

act of kindness idea: heart attack!

2.  Visit or call
It seems like the older we get, the more we appreciate the simple things.  A phone call or a visit is often among one of the most appreciated ways you can help an older person.  I know when my grandma was living in a nursing home, I loved taking my young children to visit.  She wasn't the only person who loved it, all of the other residents and nurses loved seeing them, too!  

3. Mail Kindness
Mail something to someone who could use some cheering up. It can be a postcard, a letter, a picture you drew or took, etc.
Here are some of my favorites we have sent out:

I've sent out a "missing u" card (inspired by this one), to let someone know I have been thinking about them.  I thought it was pretty cute.  Feel free to use these printables to send one yourself!

Missing U card
missing u card

Possibly my favorite card we have sent out was a DIY pressed flower card.  We just picked flowers from our yard, put them in a book (surrounded by paper towels, so they don't stick to the pages).  Let them sit under the pressure of some big books for at least 24 hours, then carefully glue them to the card.  We just used a glue stick and it worked pretty well!  We got a great response to these cards.  They look a lot harder than they really are, and they are pretty and kid friendly!

Act of Kindness Idea: DIY Pressed Flower Cards

Another thing we love to do is to send post cards.  We either search for coloring pages online & print them in postcard size (on cardstock), or just cut out the cardstock & color a picture on one side and put a message and the addresses on the other.  Easy peasy!

Note:  If you are mailing a DIY postcard (they are super easy to make!), it needs to be rectangular. At least 3-1/2 inches high x 5 inches long. No more than 4-1/4 inches high x 6 inches long.  If you cut and/or print your own, just be sure it is on card stock, so it will hold up through the mail system.

4. Ask Questions About Their Life History
If you are visiting them, ask questions about their life.  Even better, write it down!  Think of how valuable that would be to them and their family!
*I have created a simple Life History Q&A that you are welcome to print and use.

5. Use Your Talents
(and your kids’ talents and interests)
This is my secret to getting kids to like serving others (if they are struggling with it).  Incorporating their interests and talents will be so beneficial!  Here are a few examples of talents and how to serve with them.

If you or your children are interested in photography, take pictures of a Senior for free. It won't cost a thing, and chances are, they haven't had their pictures taken in far too long.

Bonus Points: Email them (or their family) the pictures.  No doubt this will be something that is cherished for generations.

(this one is self explanatory)  :)

If you like to draw, draw a picture for them & send it in the mail. Maybe even a portrait of them?
Draw some cheerful pictures and ask if they can be hung at a nursing home, or in the elderly’s home.

serve others with your talents: play an instrument

If your child plays an instrument, they can volunteer at a nursing home to play some songs for the residents

Serve others by your interests: go shopping for them

Or, maybe they need some new clothes.  Or maybe they even just need milk!

Don't feel like you "have a talent"?  Check out this awesome post about how Kimber used her "untraditional" talent in a creative way!  I love it!

6. Volunteer at a retirement center.
If you are interested in volunteering at a senior citizen center, Sheila has some great suggestions for getting in.  When you call, just ask for the Activities Coordinator and use Sheila's tips!
Some fun activities to do at an indepentent living facility, assisted living facility or memory care facility are:

  • Hold a spa/pamper day doing the resident's nails
  • Take thank you for serving our country cards, pictures, or notes to those who have served in the military.  
  • Plan a program… can be magic show, singing, jokes, playing a musical instrument, holding an art stroll, etc.
  • Play games with them.  Some of their favorites are Gin Rummy, BINGO, Bridge and puzzles.

7. Brighten their day with flowers
Pick flowers from your garden to deliver to an elderly person.  It doesn't have to be an extravagent boquet.  Even a simple flower from someone would make anyone's day!

8.  Write notes of encouragement
Write notes of encouragement & slide them under doors at a retirement center.  It's always nice to receive a note of encouragement, even if your life is going smoothly!  It doesn't have to be anything long, it can be an uplifting scripture, quote, or even something simple from your heart.

9.  Volunteer for Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels is a great organization that delivers meals to those who are unable to purchase or prepare their own meals.  There are a few ways you can volunteer for Meals on Wheels.

  • If you are looking for a commitment, you can sign up to drive once a week to deliver the meals.  It only takes an hour a week, and would be so fun to take your children with you!  No doubt the recipients of the meals would love to have a short visit with you and your children!  
  • If you are looking for a more short term commitment, you can have your kids make placemats, cards, pictures or letters for the recipients of the meals.  Just drop them off at your local Meals on Wheels location, and ask them to deliver with the meals.  You can also do this with something like single flowers!  

Once again, I can't tell you enough how much the residents at my work love having any sort of visitors, fun activities, notes, etc.  It really means the world to them!

Don't forget, sometimes it's the simple acts of kindness that mean the most to people!  


1 comment:

  1. What wonderful ideas! I'm pinning now. I found you via #TheHappyHomeLife


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