Commentary: Five ways to help seniors in Southwest Florida

From adopting a neighbor senior to volunteering and donating, you can make a…

Commentary: Five ways to help seniors in Southwest Florida 1
Commentary: Five ways to help seniors in Southwest Florida 2

Do you want to do something to help senior residents in your community, but you are not sure where to start? Here are five ways to get the ball rolling.


There are several senior-focused nonprofit organizations in Southwest Florida that are always in need of volunteers.

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• Most senior centers in Southwest Florida have limited staff and depend on volunteers to serve meals, teach classes, and lead activities. You can find volunteer opportunities by contacting the Cape Coral Community Foundation.

• You can also apply with the Dr. Piper Center through their Senior Companions Program. The program helps frail elders who need personal assistance, help with solving problems, or even just a friend. These volunteers provide the type of help many older adults need when living in isolation. Senior Companions help ease loneliness and isolation, and seniors can live with dignity and independence through the program.

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• Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida is a nonprofit organization serving older adults (age 60 and up) and adults with disabilities. They serve Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hendry, Lee, and Sarasota counties. The organization is committed to connecting older adults and adults with disabilities to resources and assistance for living safely with independence and dignity. Apply to be a volunteer and help seniors connect to local services like elder care, adult daycare, housing assistance, home care, meals, housekeeping, legal assistance, personal care, and even volunteer opportunities.

• Senior Friendship Centers offers another great volunteer opportunity. The organization is the safety net for close to 15,000 seniors living in Southwest Florida, providing over a half-million individual “units of service” to older adults in the areas of medical and dental services, caregiving, meals, exercise classes, lifelong learning, economic assistance, and socialization.

Adopt a Neighborhood Senior

Seniors without family close by, often referred to as “senior orphans” or “elder orphans” may suffer from social isolation or lack access to transportation, healthcare, and other vital services.  Senior orphans have no one to turn to in times of crisis. If you have an elderly neighbor, one of the most important things you can do is just be their friend.  Check in on them once a week and take the time to stop and chat. If you are able, offer to drive them to appointments or pick up groceries from time to time. Be the person in their life that they can count on when they need a hand.

Offer Pro-Bono Services

If you are a professional service provider, consider devoting a percentage of your time to helping seniors on a pro-bono basis. Are you a financial advisor? CPA or tax preparer? Maybe you teach fitness or computer classes? Offer free or deeply discounted rates to seniors age 65 and over. Or talk to your local library or senior center about setting up a program where you can provide services once a month either in-person or virtually.

Donate to Local Nonprofits That Operate Programs for Seniors

If you work full-time and have caregiving responsibilities, no one will blame you if you do not have the bandwidth to volunteer. Instead, give what you can to worthy organizations that run programs for older adults. Dr. Piper Center, Area Agency on Aging of Southwest Florida, Senior Friendship Centers, Cape Coral Caring Center, Community Cooperative, Harry Chapin Food Bank, and Meals on Wheels are all organizations that do important work and will put your donations to good use.

Create a Giving Fund or Leave a Legacy

If you want to make a lasting impact in the community, give to the Cape Coral Community Foundation Seniors Fund to help fund programs and services for seniors across Southwest Florida. By setting up a donor-advised fund, you will have a say in which organizations your money supports, and you can spread out your contributions over time as part of a planned giving program. Or put the Cape Coral Community Foundation in your will and create an enduring philanthropic legacy in support of seniors in our region.

To learn more about establishing a donor-advised or legacy fund, contact Cape Coral Community Foundation at

Michael Chatman is president & CEO of the Cape Coral Community Foundation, the global center for generosity, and can be reached at, on Twitter @michaelchatman. The foundation is located at 1405 SE 47th Terrace, Unit 2, Cape Coral. For information, call 239-542-5594 or go to

Commentary: Five ways to help seniors in Southwest Florida 3


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