Austin might seem like a young, hip city. But according to Aging Services of Central Texas, the number of people 65 and older is expected to grow by 2040 to more than half a million adults and comprise one-fifth of the population. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Area is home to the second-fastest growing population of adults age 65 and older in the country, and it has the fastest-growing population of adults between 55 and 64 years old.
It’s great that seniors find our fair city so inviting – they’re welcome here! – but we also have to recognize that many of them have special needs. They may be on limited incomes, have Medicare for their health insurance, be unable to manage their daily lives, and stuck in their homes when they lose the ability to drive their own cars. We also have to recognize the caregivers, who might suffer from mental health strain and other pressures.
That’s why it’s so important that more of us take on the responsibility of caring for this community. Volunteering to help seniors in Austin can be rewarding – after all, there’s lots to learn from our elders. And the programs and nonprofits that serve them offer some of the best volunteering opportunities in the city. Here’s a list of some nonprofits that offer ways to volunteer to help seniors in Austin.
AGE of Central Texas – Provides free to low-cost services for seniors and their caregivers to support all stages of aging, from the active to those with various stages of dementia. Volunteers help mostly during the day, providing support and company to seniors who attend its adult day health care centers.
Senior Access – Helping seniors in East Austin, Pflugerville, Round Rock, and Hutto continue to age in place by connecting volunteer drivers with seniors who need rides. You might also be asked to do some minor household repairs, help with medical equipment, help with filling out forms, and more. In 2018, Senior Access had 600 volunteers who gave 13.700 rides.
Drive-A-Senior – Another service needing volunteer drivers, this time for seniors living in Central Austin, West Austin, and North Central Austin into Round Rock, with another network in Elgin. They’re looking for drivers with their own cars as well as drivers who can handle a van. You might also be asked to do some light yard work, help with simple home tasks, and just provide a little social contact.
Family Eldercare – Right now is one of the biggest in-kind drives of the year, the Family Eldercare Summer Fan Drive, May 1 to Aug 31. Its goal is to help 12,000 Central Texas survive the summer heat. You can donate fans or funds to purchase fans, so learn more about that here. But Family Eldercare is also in need of volunteers who do things like help seniors learn to manage their money, visit with seniors in person or over the phone, or help the nonprofit itself with administrative tasks.
Meals on Wheels Central Texas – MOW has volunteering down to a science. Most people who sign up to deliver meals to home-bound seniors say it’s an easy yet fulfilling experience. Chances are you know someone who delivers meals already. But did you know you can also volunteer to help support and have fun with seniors in mid-stage Alzheimer’s Disease, deliver groceries, and even help seniors care for their pets? Lots of opportunities here – get involved!