Volunteer Opportunities to Combat Social Isolation Among Older Adults During the Holiday Season.

The holiday season can be difficult for some older adults. The loss of loved ones, children who live far away or a change in residence are just some of the reasons that may lead to loneliness and isolation. In addition, Canadians winters can be particularly harsh making it difficult for those with limited mobility to get out of the house.

To promote a caring and inclusive society, many Canadians are doing their part to ensure that our older adults are not alone during the holidays. In the spirit of the season, here are some suggestions on how to reach out to potentially isolated older adults in your community.

  1. If there is a gathering with family or community that you know an older adult has been invited to, extend an offer to go with them. Night driving and slippery walks may be difficult for older adults to negotiate and discourage attendance.
  2. Look for a friendly visiting program in your community and volunteer. For example Acclaim Health in Oakville, Ontario offers a friendly visiting program that links older adults with a volunteer who typically visits once a week.
  3. There may be a diners club in your area such as Toronto’s Circle of Care. Their Let’s Get Together groups meet once a month over lunch and provide free transportation. Volunteer or offer to take someone who might benefit from some socialization and a nice meal.
  4. Local religious organizations often offer support for isolated older adults. Perhaps the organization connects individuals who require assistance attending services with volunteers.
  5. Check you municipal or regional area for events to volunteer at or attend. A great example of a community reaching out to older adults during the holiday season is the Sioux Lookout annual Christmas dinner for older adults. The event brings together religious groups, sororities, Rotary clubs, Lions clubs, Girl Guides, Masonic groups, Shriners and local businesses. They even send out meals to older adults who are unable to attend in person.

The holiday season can be a joyous time of year. Reaching out to isolated older adults in the community is an opportunity to spread the joy.

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