When most people first think of volunteering abroad, they’re mostly picturing images of young children, and helping mold the minds and lives of younger generations. But what the older generations? Why not become volunteers for elderly care?
Why volunteer with the elderly abroad?
Volunteering as elder help is an incredible, life-altering opportunity. Often forgotten by society and not given the attention they deserve, the elderly are in desperate need for volunteers to dedicate themselves to elder help throughout the world, as many countries’ populations grow older.
Although certainly a challenging volunteer opportunity, being an elderly care volunteer gives you a chance to work with some of the most valued members of society. Imagine the wealth of knowledge, history, and culture these older generations hold! As an elder helpers volunteer, you’ll be the caretaker of an invaluable resource to these countries abroad.
Ways to volunteer with the elderly abroad
There are a few different ways to volunteer abroad with the elderly, depending on the kind of care you’d like to provide, and what best matches your skillset.
Elderly Companion Care
Working as a volunteer elderly companion typically means that you serve as emotional support and companionship for the elderly people you are caring for. Many times, the people you would work with are living independently, but are simply in need of a friendly face and and some good conversation (so brush up on your language skills of the country you’ll be traveling to!).
Volunteer elderly companion care can sometimes also mean completing a few, household tasks to help your new older friend in their home. This can include light housework, helping with showering and getting dressed, or even something as simple as helping them hang a frame on the wall. Small daily activities can sometimes be the most challenging, and helping with these makes a huge difference! But most importantly, as a companion to the elderly abroad, it’s your job to make a human connection with the people with whom you are working, to talk to them, and to make them feel less lonely. A senior companion volunteer program is an incredible chance to learn from your elders, to hear their stories, and to create bonds across borders and generations.
Food Preparation and Nutrition
What’s the most important part of every day? Food, duh. As a volunteer for the elderly, you can also work in food preparation and nutrition. Whip out that chef’s knife and start chopping! Anything from kitchen work, to cooking, to food delivery can make a huge difference in the lives of the people you are volunteering with. If you have experience or a degree in nutrition and/or health sciences, you may also be able to help with nutrition volunteer programs, ensuring that the elderly are getting proper food and nutrients that keep them chugging along!
[Save and compare elder help volunteer opportunities side-by-side with MyGoAbroad]
As the world’s population grows older, senior homes and centers are severely understaffed in terms of medical needs. If you are a certified nurse, your skills are in high demand all over the globe! As a nurse, you can make a very real difference in the quality of life of the elderly, who often suffer from illness and lack of care.
You can also volunteer with the elderly by simply visiting to share small moment with them - sharing a meal, playing a card game, or helping with simple errands can really improve the daily lives and moods of the people you are caring for. The mental health of a person is just as important as their physical health, and seeing a cheerful face changes their entire outlook on life.
[The World’s Best Places to Volunteer Abroad—A GoAbroad Report]
What countries offer elderly volunteer opportunities?
Elderly populations are growing in number worldwide, so you should be able to find options everywhere in the world when looking for volunteer opportunities in this field. However, there are a few countries and regions of the world that are in particular need of volunteers.
Known for its stunning views, vibrant indigenous culture, and friendly alpacas, Peru is a stunning country to work in and explore. However, a large portion of Peru’s rural, mountainous population has flooded into bigger cities, leaving these urban areas struggling under the weight of new arrivals and the huge numbers of immigrants that have also arrived in recent years. Resources for the elderly, in particular, have diminished as local governments strain themselves to keep up with the growing numbers of people in need of elder help.
For those hoping to make a difference in an area that really could use an extra set of helping hands, Peru has many programs for kind-hearted volunteers.
This West African country is a beautiful combination of diversity and wildlife, situated right on the coast. However, its more rural areas are straining themselves to keep up with development, and health and poverty are two very large issues. For those interested in volunteering in healthcare and nutrition, this may be the perfect place for you.
An island nation south of India, Sri Lanka is an unforgettable mosaic of vast, sandy beaches and thick rainforests. It also, sadly, has a great deal of income inequality and poverty. Those in elderly homes are largely left unattended with very little assistance, which means that dedicated volunteers willing to help are simply invaluable to these communities.
[Not the right location for you? Don't worry—there are more choices! Check out elderly volunteer programs in all other countries here.]
Popular organizations that run elderly volunteer programs
So you’ve decided to dedicate your time and energy to helping the elderly abroad because you are a kind, generous person who wants to do good in the world. Congratulations! You’re amazing and the world needs more people like you. Next step: picking a program.
Because there are, in fact, so many people in need across the globe, narrowing down where you should go can seem like an impossible, intimidating task. Here are a few star-studded, popular organizations that run elderly volunteer programs.
1. Maximo Nivel
With programs all over the world, Maximo Nivel is a well-respected volunteer organization that ensures its volunteers are both giving back and gaining crucial life skills. For those hoping to gain medical experience while helping struggling communities, consider serving as a medical volunteer in Costa Rica!
Here, you’ll be able to volunteer in hospitals and assisted living homes with the elderly, working alongside doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. It helps if you know some Spanish, but the program also offers language courses so you can brush up!
2. International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)
IVHQ is an incredible volunteer program provider that prioritizes projects that are responsibly-run, as well as making sure that their volunteers are safe and properly-trained above all else. Their elderly care volunteer program in Sri Lanka brings volunteers to an elderly care home that is severely understaffed, and thus, its elders are often missing human interaction and care. This program is perfect for those volunteers looking to serve as a companion and a friendly face to older generations in need of conversation and kindness.
Related: Read International Volunteer HQ Reviews |
3. African Impact
With healthcare providers struggling to provide the support needed to the elderly with a limited number of staff, African Impact’s healthcare and medical volunteering program in Zambia helps local communities and their elderly. The particular program allows volunteers for the elderly to assist house-bound individuals in need of company, as well as assisting the medical facilities of a senior home.
Related: Read African Impact Reviews |
4. Cross-Cultural Solutions
With Cross-Cultural Solutions, you’ll not only do a lot of good - you’ll also learn and immerse yourself in the local culture of the communities you’re serving. Cross-Cultural Solutions’ program in Peru offers volunteers the opportunity to assist a large population of the elderly that are in desperate need of care and support in larger, overpopulated cities. You’ll also learn Peruvian culture, assisting you in connecting with your new elderly friends, by taking cooking classes, Spanish language courses, or dance lessons.
Related: Read Cross-Cultural Solutions Reviews |
5. Global Volunteers
With Global Volunteers, you’ll work with an NGO in the Cook Islands of the South Pacific, where you’ll volunteer with local communities to provide support for elderly care. You’ll be directly involved with the the people of the main island of Rarotonga, giving you a chance to really immerse yourself and give back.
Related: Read Global Volunteers Reviews |
Next steps to finding elderly volunteer programs
Before you jump on that plane, train or boat to your amazing elder help volunteer program, here are a few next steps and tips to finding the perfect program and prepping for the experience.
- Compare and contrast volunteer abroad programs with the elderly side-by-side by using the .
- Still a little confused as to where you want to go and what you want to do as a volunteer for the elderly? Get some top-notch advice from the experts at GoAbroad, and sign up to get some FREE tips from GoAbroad’s Online Advisors!
- Get some advice from people who have been there, and check out The Preparation Guide to Volunteering Abroad.
- If you’re hoping to transition from volunteering abroad with the elderly to a career in nursing, check out Why International Experience is Essential for Nurses.
- Make sure you’re ready for the realities of what you’ll get out of volunteering abroad.
Itching for more information on elderly volunteer opportunities? Check out all of GoAbroad’s Volunteer Abroad Articles here.
You’re not getting any younger...
Volunteering abroad with the elderly requires a lot of hard work, optimism, and a giving heart. Volunteering in any capacity is challenging, but working as a elderly care volunteer can be especially difficult emotionally. It’s important to remember the positive influence you’re having on these people’s lives, and how it will forever change your worldview for the better. Now go out there and make the world a better place!