Numerous elderly people in the United Kingdom have no living children or close relatives to help them in their daily care. Many relocate to areas which are far from where they live, making it nearly impossible to provide the assistance they need. As a result, many seniors spend much of their time living in isolation and loneliness. They often rely on the services of volunteers to provide services and opportunities for socialisation and entertainment.
Volunteering to help the elderly can be a rewarding experience. Studies have shown that helping others promotes happiness. The more people volunteer, they happier they are. It is also a fun and easy way to explore one’s passions and interests. By volunteering for something that is interesting and meaningful, people often find that it can be an energizing yet relaxing escape from the daily routine routine of work, school, or family commitments.
One group, called Contact the Elderly, is a national charity that uses volunteers to organise tea parties on Sunday afternoons every month for small groups of the elderly who are over the age of 75 and live alone, so that each person can look forward to a regular gathering of those who become friend every month.
Typically on a Sunday afternoon once a month, a volunteer driver picks up the older guest from their home and brings them to a volunteer host home for the afternoon, where they have tea, talk and enjoy companionship. The tea can last for two to three hours and the drivers are welcome to join as are family and friends.
There is a different host each month but the groups and the drivers remain the same from month to month. This means that over time acquaintances become friends and companionship replaces loneliness. It gives everyone involved something to look forward to every month.
The Friends of the Elderly is another charity that provides support for older people. It offers many opportunities for volunteers to help out with the services that it provides.
It has many care homes across the UK that provide care for older people that is customised for their individual needs. The homes are designed to be warm and comfortable and volunteers help in adding to the friendliness of the homes and making them feel a part of the family.
The Friends of the Elderly also has Among Friends day clubs where people with dementia and their families can get a day out doing something they enjoy and might not otherwise be able to do on their own. Volunteers are valuable during these days as they lift the burden of care from the family members so they can enjoy the day equally with their older family members.
Volunteers can also help with the charity’s telephone befriending service that offer a lifeline for the elderly who are lonely and isolated. The volunteers make regular calls so as to develop friendships and improve the well-being and quality of life of those they call.
Volunteers visit the elderly who live alone by organising mornings of coffee and group events in sheltered housing schemes. Connections with others are made and friendships are created.
The Reading Organisation is a group where volunteers share the reading aloud of stories and poems with older people. Experiences and thoughts are shared and social and personal connections are made that reduce isolation and keep the elderly engaged, active and independent. For older people and those who live with dementia, shared reading provides cognitive stimulation and meaningful engagement with improvements in mood and concentration long after the group has finished. The members of the reading group also have the opportunity of social interaction and something to look forward to every week.