9 Best Charities That Support Senior Citizens (Complete 2024 List)

9 Best Charities That Support Senior Citizens (Complete 2024 List)

By
Dennis Kamprad

Read Time:19 Minutes

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Seniors aged 65 and older made up about 16% of the US population. A number that is projected to increase to an estimated 21.6% by 2040. The senior population presents with unique challenges and problems as they age, including chronic health conditions, a loss of independence, and discrimination. Charities around the world are working tirelessly to support our older people. So we had to ask: What are the best charities that support senior citizens?

The best charities that support senior citizens are Meals on Wheels and the Pension Rights Center. Other charities such as Justice in Aging and the National Council on Aging fight for fair and equitable legislation for seniors. 

Whether you want to help feed the elderly, provide them with companionship, or help them age gracefully in their own homes, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities that support the elderly are all about, how they work, and what your best way would be to make a contribution.

Here’s What All the Best Charities That Support the Elderly Have in Common

The charities on this list were chosen based on their mission, impact and transparency ratings, and achievements.

They all operate across the US.

Some of the charities assist by fighting for better legislation while others provide direct services for senior citizens.

Some charities offer social services to help seniors stay in their homes and keep their independence, while others find ways to offer companionship to prevent loneliness.

Yet, they all share the same goal of supporting senior citizens.

These Are the 9 Best Charities That Support Senior Citizens in 2024

Below are our favorite charities that support senior citizens (you can click on their link to directly jump to their section in this article):

(At the end of this article we’ll also share our six-step approach on how you can select the best charity to support.)

1

Meals on Wheels America: Delivering Food and Hope to Senior Citizens

Logo for Meals on Wheels America
Richard and Homer Gere | The Everlasting Impact of Meals on Wheels

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Their transparency & ratings:

Charity Navigator gives Meals on Wheels America a 4-star rating and GuideStar has awarded them the gold seal of transparency. 

“To empower local community programs to improve the health and quality of life of the seniors they serve so that no one is left hungry or isolated.”

Meals on Wheels America

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What they do:

Meals on Wheels America provides nutritious meals for seniors who have a difficult time leaving their homes. They also promote in-house visits and safety checks to reduce isolation in the older adult population and ensure their well-being.

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What they’ve achieved:

Meals on Wheels America provides meal services to nearly 2.4 million older adults annually. For example, in 2020, they served over 144 million meals across the US. 9 out of 10 recipients report that having these meals delivered helped them to continue living independently. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Meals on Wheels America on their website. You can also support the charity by purchasing items from their merchandise store or by signing up to volunteer

2

Justice in Aging: Protecting the Rights of Seniors

Logo for Justice in Aging
Aging Partners Celebrate Justice in Aging

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Their transparency & ratings:

Charity Navigator gives Justice in Aging a 4-star rating.

“By using the law to strengthen the social safety net, and remove the barriers low-income seniors face in trying to access the services they need, we work to ensure the future we all envision for our loved ones and ourselves.”

Justice in Aging

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What they do:

Justice in Aging advocates for legislation at the federal and state level to protect and expand the rights of seniors. They do this by focusing on two main areas: health care and economic security. They ensure every senior has access to the healthcare programs and social security benefits that they are entitled to without discrimination. They also offer litigation services and training for law professionals to help senior citizens maintain their rights through the courts. 

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What they’ve achieved:

Today, Justice in Aging’s training program for law professionals has 53,000 members. With this training, in 2021, Justice in Aging challenged healthcare policies in 11 states that discriminated against seniors. They were instrumental in a lawsuit to enforce the right to translation services for seniors with limited English proficiency during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Justice in Aging directly through their website. You can also follow them on Instagram and Facebook

3

Pension Rights Center: Ensuring Senior Citizens Retire with Dignity

Logo for Pension Rights Center
Pension Counseling and Information Program

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Their transparency & ratings:

Charity Navigator gives the Pension Rights Center a score of 100 out of 100 for finance and accountability. 

“The Center seeks to ensure that, after a lifetime of work, all older Americans have sufficient income to retire with dignity.”

Pension Rights Center

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What they do:

The Pension Rights Center ensures that financial retirement rights are protected under US law by lobbying for legislation at the national level. They also operate two referral services that help senior citizens with any questions or problems that arise when drawing pensions.

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What they’ve achieved:

To date, the Pension Rights Center has helped recover over $175 million in pensions for older americans. They also successfully advocated for the passing of the Butch Lewis Act, which helps fund severely troubled pension plans so that they can provide money to retirees until at least 2051. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the Pension Rights Center via their website. You can also keep up to date with their work by following the charity on Facebook

4

Second Wind Dreams: Making Senior’s Dreams Come True

Logo for Second Wind Dreams
Ms Annie Grissom Train Ride part 1

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Their transparency & ratings:

Charity Navigator gives Second Wind Dreams 97 out of 100 for finance and accountability, and GuideStar gives them the gold seal of transparency. 

“Weaving thousands of dreams from the simple to the sublime, the mission of Second Wind Dreams is simple — to change the perception of aging through the fulfillment of dreams and the offering of innovative educational opportunities to caregivers and communities.”

Second Wind Dreams

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What they do:

Second Wind Dreams fulfills any wishes and dreams of older adults who live in senior care facilities, ranging from simple wishes to the dreams of a lifetime. Examples of fulfilled dreams include parasailing, a makeover with a photoshoot, and a trip to the World Series baseball game. During the holiday season, they give gifts and visit with seniors who don’t have family. They also provide dementia training for professionals. 

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their inception, Second Wind Dreams has fulfilled tens of thousands of wishes, fulfilling about 200 dreams per month. Their dementia training has been completed by 3.4 million people in 20 countries

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to Second Wind Dreams. You can also support the charity by volunteering your time or by sending cards to senior citizens. 

5

Alzheimer’s Association: Leading the Fight Against Dementia

Logo for Alzheimer's Association
Progress in the Fight Against Alzheimer's

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Their transparency & ratings:

Charity Navigator gives the Alzheimer’s Association an overall score of 87.33 out of 100.

“The Alzheimer’s Association leads the way to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support.”

Alzheimer’s Association

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What they do:

The Alzheimer’s Association assists with research, resources, and education about Alzheimers and other types of dementia, which commonly affect seniors. They provide education for the general public on what dementia is and its early warning signs. They also provide resources, both online and via a phone helpline for people with Alzheimer’s as well as their caregivers.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Alzheimer’s Association has remained dedicated to supporting people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, including seniors. In 2021, the charity invested $250 million into Alzheimer’s and dementia research. This research has led to the development of better imaging criteria for earlier detection of Alzheimer’s in seniors. In the same year, their resources, both online and their phone helpline, were used over 7.5 million times. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the Alzheimer’s Association on their website. You can also volunteer or advocate to improve public policy surrounding Alzheimer’s.  

6

National Council on Aging: Supporting the Welfare of Senior Citizens

Logo for National Council on Aging
NCOA: Give a little. It helps a lot.

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Their transparency & ratings:

Charity Navigator gives the National Council on Aging a 3-star rating. GuideStar has awarded them the gold seal of transparency. 

“We believe aging well is something every American deserves—regardless of gender, color, sexuality, income, or zip code.”

National Council on Aging

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What they do:

The National Council on Aging advocates at the federal level for better legislation for seniors. They provide guides and resources for medicare, falls prevention, money, and health so that seniors are better able to understand what services are available and how to access benefits. Additionally, they provide resources for caregivers to learn how to best support their elderly loved ones as well as best practice resources for healthcare professionals. 

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their inception, the National Council on Aging has helped 19 million older adults. For example, in 2021, they supported 87 benefit enrollment centers who help low income seniors check for Medicare benefits that they may be missing out on. The charity also led advocacy for the passing of legislation that increased funding for Medicare low-income outreach from $37.5 million to $50 million

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the National Council on Aging on their website. You can also support the charity by helping them advocate for better legislation for senior citizens. 

7

Shepherd’s Centers of America: Using Community to Promote Positive Aging

Logo for Shepherd’s Centers of America
Learn how Shepherd’s Centers are working together to change aging in America!

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Their transparency & ratings:

Charity Navigator gives Shepherd’s Centers of America a score of 95 out of 100 for finance and accountability.  

“Together, we offer a continuum of enriching services to over 165,000 individuals every year, including: support services such as transportation, handy helpers, friendly visits, grocery shopping, and respite care to help older adults remain living in their own homes and communities.”

Shepherd’s Centers of America

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What they do:

The Shepherd’s Center provides support services for senior citizens across America. For example, they offer educational courses to seniors through their Adventures in Learning program. They also offer free ride services for seniors who can no longer independently drive. This includes helping seniors in and out of their home as well as managing mobility equipment such as walkers and wheelchairs. Their home improvement services help with tasks such as yardwork, installing railings, and shopping so that seniors can continue to live independently in their homes for as long as possible. 

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What they’ve achieved:

Today, the Shepherd’s Center has 55 affiliate centers across the US, serving approximately 165,000 older people every year. For example, in 2020, their volunteers provided over 34,000 free rides so that seniors who were unable to drive could go shopping and run errands, participate in community events, and get to necessary medical appointments. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to the Shepherd’s Centers of America on their website. You can also support the charity by volunteering your time. 

8

Aging with Dignity: Safeguarding the End-of-Life Wishes of Seniors

Logo for Aging with Dignity
Five Wishes and Its Impact in 2021

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Their transparency & ratings:

Charity Navigator gives Aging with Dignity a score of 100 out of 100 for finance and accountability. 

“Aging with Dignity defends the God-given right of the elderly, disabled, and mentally ill to have their human dignity respected and safeguarded, particularly in times of serious illness.”

Aging with Dignity

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What they do:

Aging with Dignity focuses on advanced planning for seniors. Their Five Wishes program provides a legal document to preserve and protect the end-of-life wishes of senior citizens. It covers medical and legal issues as well as spiritual needs, comfort needs, and emotional needs. The charity also provides a toll-free hotline for anyone who has questions about advanced planning. 

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What they’ve achieved:

Aging with Dignity’s Five Wishes program is one of the most popular advanced planning documents available, with over 35 million copies used. It has been translated into 29 different languages and is considered a legal document for end of life directions in 44 out of 50 states.   

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Aging with Dignity on their website. You can also keep up to date on their work by following them on Facebook

9

Pets for the Elderly Foundation: Providing Companionship through Pets

Logo for Pets for the Elderly
Interview with Susan Kurowski with Pets for the Elderly Foundation

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Their transparency & ratings:

Charity Navigator gives Pets for the Elderly Foundation an overall score of 87 out of 100. GuideStar gives them the gold seal of transparency. 

“…to provide companionship to senior individuals through pet ownership, while saving the lives of companion animals in shelters; animals which might otherwise be destroyed due to lack of appropriate homes, and space limitations.”

Pets for the Elderly Foundation

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What they do:

Pets for the Elderly Foundation combats the problem of loneliness by helping seniors adopt pets. They partner with shelters to pay for a portion of the adoption fees for seniors, including paying for pre-adoption vet checkups and spay or neutering services. They also provide funding to help new senior pet owners pay for veterinarian services, food, and any necessary surgeries for their new companions. 

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their inception, Pets for the Elderly Foundation has helped over 100,000 seniors by covering their pet adoption fees. They have expanded to partner with 53 shelters in 31 states. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Pets for the Elderly Foundation on their website. You can also keep up with any new updates by following them on Instagram and Facebook.

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities that support the elderly. However, you may have a particular charity you want to support. Let’s look at what you can do to ensure your contribution has the most significant impact.

  • Check out the charity website. Charities that are worthy of your donations are transparent in their mission and their figures. Familiarise yourself with their history, mission, and values. Their website usually is the best place to start.
  • Identify the charity’s mission. Without a goal, the charity is likely to fail. If the charity’s mission isn’t clear, it’s probably worth looking for a charity that does have a clear mission. 
  • Check if the charity has measurable goals. An effective charity has clear goals. You want to know your donation will help the charity reach its goals. But if it doesn’t have targets, it’s likely to fail or squander your gift. The charity should be able to account for its spending and supply evidence of the work they do.
  • Assess the successes or goals the charity has achieved. You wouldn’t invest in a business if it kept missing its targets. In the same way, charities are like this too. If no one is assessing a charity’s progress in reaching its targets, the chances are they’re not making a substantial positive change.
  • Check the charity’s financials and stats. Trustworthy organizations will publish financial statements and reports each year. Some might be exempt from having to do so, but they should be able to provide them to public members who are interested in donating.
  • Locate sources who work with or benefit from the charity. Word of mouth and first-hand experience of a charity’s work lets you know the charity’s quality. If you’re able to do so, check out the charity for yourself or speak to someone familiar with it. This way, your donation will go to the right place. 

How Can You Best Support These Charities?

After you’ve made your decision, it’s time for you to decide on how you’d like to help the charities you’ve chosen. Check how you can help – each charity runs specific programs that have unique aims. Find out what the aim of such programs is and whether they are right for you. 

Here are a few ways you can help your chosen charity:

  • Donate money. You can find donation pages on the website of most charities. Your donation can be a one-time payment, or you can set it to be deducted regularly at different intervals. You can mostly pay via credit card, but some charities also take PayPal or Bitcoin payments.
  • Buy their official merchandise. The charities can also raise money by selling merchandise. So, you can support them by buying the mugs, shirts, caps, pens, pencils, and any other such items they may be selling. Ideally, you should buy as much as you can to share and spread the word about the charity’s activities.
  • Engage in volunteer work. As you’ve seen from our descriptions above, some charities engage in a lot of local and grassroots programs. You can help by taking on and organizing the program in your local area.
  • Help their fundraising efforts. You can spread the word about the charity in your workplace, school, church, etc., and hold creative fundraising drives on social media or offline within your small circles.
  • Share their stories. Most charities have compelling stories that you can share with your audience to attract more people to the cause.

Final Thoughts

Now it is up to you to select the charity that resonates most with you. And whichever charity you end up choosing and contributing to, we are sure that they will immensely appreciate your support. Hopefully, the information within this article has made this selection process a bit easier for you to support charities dedicated to the elderly – based on the causes that matter most to you.

Stay impactful,

Illustration of a signature for Dennis



PS: Finally, I want to leave you with a thought-provoking TED talk from Dan Pallotta, a leading philanthropic activist and fundraiser, about what is wrong with the way we think about charities – and what we can do about it:

The way we think about charity is dead wrong | Dan Pallotta

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