Contribution by: Sally Writes
There are almost 6 million seniors in Canada - a figure that now outnumbers the young. As healthcare improves and life expectancy increases, we have become an aging population. It is very easy to be complacent about growing older, but the fact is that we will all be seniors one day. Just ask yourself what you would like for that time in your life? For the majority of us, we would say a warm, comfortable home and companionship with others.
GivingTuesday is coming up soon; get inspired by this day dedicated to generosity and giving back in whatever ways we can. When you’re thinking of ways to give back, the gift of time is one of the most precious things you can give. Ask yourself how you can improve the quality of life for the seniors in your area. You don’t need to give financially in order to make a difference. Just pop down to your nearest senior living home and ask how you can help.
Time to read
A quarter of Canadians over the age of 75 have some form of irreversible vision loss. This can have an impact on daily life. For seniors to be able to live comfortably at home as they get older, they need to be able to do everyday tasks, such as looking at a bank statement, paying a bill or simply working out what is on television. On this year’s GivingTuesday, how about spending some time with a loved one reading to them? You could even volunteer as a reader, at a local senior living center. It could be something simple, like reading the daily newspapers, so that they can keep up to date with current events. Or you could help them read and understand paperwork and emails that they need to deal with. Small tasks like this help to make aging in place possible for seniors.
Time to listen
A quarter of seniors in Canada say that they regularly feel lonely. In fact, leading psychologists have called this a loneliness epidemic. Nobody should be in a situation where there is no one to talk to or listen as they grow older. On GivingTuesday, make a pledge to put by an hour a week to talk with a senior. You might even make a new friend, who can help you find a new perspective on life. Something as small as a cup of tea and a chat can make all the difference in someone’s life, and help them to feel part of a wider community.
Time for fun
It's important for seniors to be mentally stimulated, and one of the best ways to do this is through games. When you're visiting, take along a pack of cards, a chess set or a copy of Scrabble. You could even start an enthralling Dungeons and Dragons adventure. Or how about setting up an online game? A regular challenge of Words with Friends on the iPad might only take ten minutes, but it could actually be the highlight of someone’s day. Or follow the amazing example of this 11 year old boy from PEI who is looking to collect iPod or MP3 players to donate to patients with dementia, another great example of how GivingTuesdayKids are giving back.
The gift of time is the most important thing that you have - it is infinitely more valuable than money because no matter what we do, time will always slip away. On GivingTuesday, spare a little time for a senior, and you will help them to feel connected to the community that they live in.