“Service to Seniors,” Ensign, Dec. 2009, 60–61
As I hugged an elderly friend goodbye, she said, “Thanks for coming. You’re the only one in the ward who cares about me.” I hid my shock and responded, “No. That’s not true,” followed by the oft-used excuse, “Everyone is just so busy.” Our lives are busy, but are we busy doing the most important things? To be truly happy, we must include opportunities to serve others, especially those who are lonely and homebound. They have much to offer, but we often forget or overlook them. How can we help? There is ample opportunity—even with our busy schedules.
Get acquainted. Make treats or take a basket of fruit. Food often provides opportunities to visit with others and to show that you’re thinking of them.
Visit ward members. Ask your bishop or Relief Society president who needs a visit in your ward. Beyond those we home or visit teach, we might also reach out to others who need an extra boost.
Visit a nearby nursing or retirement home. When a child is in music lessons or sports practices, you might use “waiting time” to visit a nearby nursing home. Look for opportunities in your schedule to pay a visit.
Volunteer. Call a nursing or retirement home and inquire about their volunteer opportunities. Our oldest son and I used to distribute newspapers one morning a week at a local nursing home. It was a great way to meet the residents and teach my son about responsibility and the blessings of service.
Share your talents. If you’re musically inclined, share a song or play an instrument to brighten someone’s day. Quilting, baking, or scrapbooking—whatever your talents, you can share them. Who knows? Your newfound friends might share their talents too.
Schedule service. Once a week is best to develop a friendship, but once a month is better than nothing. Once you’ve established a friendship, you can make your visits more meaningful by adding a few thoughtful touches.
Share a meal. I prepare an extra dinner plate to take to a neighborhood friend. She is thrilled with the food, and it really doesn’t make extra work for me.
Ask about them. What was their childhood like? How did they meet their spouse? What was their career? Their education? Hobbies? They’ll enjoy telling you about themselves, and you and your children will learn some interesting history.
Share pictures and scrapbooks. Bring your pictures or scrapbooks and ask to look at theirs. Sharing pictures and stories is one of the best ways to truly get to know someone.
Share the holidays. If your elderly friends don’t have family nearby, invite them to share the holidays with you. Even if they do have holiday plans, they’ll still appreciate your company on the days in between.
Our family has benefited so much from serving our “adopted grandparents.” You can never have too many friends who love you and your children.