How to Get Involved in Your Loved One's Senior Living Community

Fortunately, this isn’t a tricky question to answer. There are plenty of opportunities available to the diligent seeker!

If you’re interested in becoming more involved in your loved one’s senior living experience, your first stop should be the community itself. The community’s leadership team should have their finger on the pulse of the community, and they can be an excellent resource. They should know their community’s specific needs, and they should be able to give you helpful advice on how you can play a greater role in the community. But in case you want some talking points before you meet with the staff, we’ve assembled a few ideas for you to consider.

Visiting

The first and most basic action you can take is a regular visit. Setting aside a dedicated time to swing by the community on a weekly or biweekly basis can have a host of benefits. You not only get to see your mom or dad regularly, you can get to know the staff, the grounds and their fellow residents. Who knows — you might even start to make some friends yourself!

Action Ideas:

●      Pack a picnic.

●      Organize a game night.

●      Recruit the grandkids.

●      Take a class.

●      Attend an in-community webinar.

●      Decorate for the holidays.

●      Record fun family stories.

Volunteerism

Does the community have a vegetable garden that could use a good weeding? Do you have a particularly good voice for reading books aloud? Is your church choir willing to put together a show for the residents? Volunteerism can be a great way to get involved at the local community. You can be a one-woman (or one-man) volunteer army if that’s your style; or, if you want to be part of a bigger picture, there are several groups you can partner with. National organizations like Elder Helpers and AmeriCorp specialize in coordinating volunteer activities to benefit older adults as well as senior companionship. If you prefer your volunteerism to have a local flair, you could partner with regional organizations and faith-based groups in your area. All it takes is a phone book and a few calls.

Action Ideas:

●      Read to visually impaired residents.

●      Teach a skill like knitting.

●      Set up a parking lot car wash for residents with cars.

●      Help create memory boxes.

●      Offer to organize drawers or closets.

●      Write letters and postcards.

●      Provide companionship.

Advocacy

Your involvement with your loved one’s community doesn’t have to stop at the front door. Advocacy groups like AARP, the National Council on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association perform important work on the macro level to influence research, care and public policy to benefit older adults. This can benefit not only your loved one and the residents in their community but seniors throughout the United States — maybe even around the world. So what are you waiting for?

Action Ideas:

●      Register with a reputable organization.

●      Ask for volunteer opportunities.

●      Help raise funds for research.

●      Get informed on existing policy.

●      Study proposed policy.

●      Reach out to community leaders.

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