What We Learned from Volunteering with the Elderly

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Volunteering in India with Elderly

Last month we spent time at the Old Age Home around 35 minutes outside of New Delhi, India. Along with a few Brazilian travelers, we wanted to see how we could better understand the issues that impact the elderly and geriatric care in the country.

Take-aways:

  1. The elderly need love and personal attention. There are around 60 senior citizens who have been abandoned, neglected or forgotten about their families. When we spent time with them, they were happy, holding our hands and hugging us. When we would leave, they would start crying.

  2. The government provides them basic facilities, but come up short on key essentials. The government has provided a “dental office with a dental chair” but not enough money to hire an actual part-time dentist that can come check up on the residents. They have set up an “entertainment” room that has a TV but the space could do with a few musical instruments and more games to help the residents pass their time.

  3. Their life is monotonous: The residents have an outdoor space where they can exercise. However, the area as they step out of the home is in shambles and they are unable to go to a park or take walks.

  4. Funds are Low: Staff at the center is limited by the provisions the government has provided. If they want to do more activities or provide better facilities, staff has to pay out of their own pockets. The staff don’t make much money so it gets difficult for them.

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Solutions:

  1. We need more Volunteers: It cannot be overstated that the elderly do not have anyone in their life except the other residents and the staff. Every fresh face, every friendship and all time spent with them is meaningful and good for their mental health. The more they feel people are visiting them, hugging them and listening to them, the less alone they feel.

  2. Outreach to other non-profits: We need long-term volunteers who can spearhead initiatives to do outreach to other non-profits that could provide more support to the center. This could be in the form of reaching out to dentists and other health care providers who can do pro bono work.

  3. Vary Up Activities: Volunteers can try to put together day or afternoon outings to nearby places of culture that enrich the lives of the senior citizens. This may or may not be possible in a short amount of time, but with the right volunteer, things may be able to be pushed through.

  4. Assist Staff on Fund Proposals: Volunteers can create content in the form of pictures, videos and proposals that can ultimately help the center’s staff ask for better budget allocations from which to provide the residents better facilities.

If you have any further ideas, please do get in touch with us below! If you are interested in volunteering abroad for this particular center, make sure to fill out the volunteer abroad inquiry form.

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