About Eldercare in Costa Rica
In traditional Costa Rican culture, senior citizens are cared for by their families. Economic and social changes have made this tradition difficult to carry on, and elders in Costa Rica now often live in assisted-living facilities, many of which are understaffed and short on resources. World Endeavors Eldercare volunteers help in these facilities and other locations including senior centers, spending time with residents and assisting staff. Responsibilities vary, and some tasks depend upon the volunteer’s knowledge and experience of healthcare and working with the elderly. Common tasks range anywhere from playing games, sharing stories, and practicing English with the senior citizens, to assisting nursing staff with distributing medicine, seeing to the needs of the residents, and helping with the day-to-day maintenance of the facility. By assisting with these projects, participants can make a difference to the elderly of Costa Rica and to the staff who work with them, while forming a lasting connection to the local community.
A Typical Day in the Life of a Volunteer in Costa Rica
World Endeavors volunteers in Costa Rica can expect their days to be a combination of meaningful volunteer work, cultural experiences, and free time for relaxation and reflection. The sample schedule below represents a typical day for a volunteer in Costa Rica. Keep in mind that when volunteering abroad, a typical day can be anything but typical!
8:00 am – 8:45 am: Breakfast with your host family. Breakfast in Costa Rica often consists of gallo pinto (rice and black beans), eggs, fried plantains, and fresh fruit juice or locally-grown coffee.
8:45 am – 9:00 am: Travel by public bus or walk to your volunteer placement.
9:00 am – 12:00 pm: Work at volunteer placement.
12:00 pm– 12:30 pm: Head home for lunch with your host family or eat lunch at your project site. Lunch is the main meal in Costa Rica. A typical lunch is a casado (rice, beans, meat, tortillas, and a salad).
1:00- 3:30 pm: Work at volunteer placement
3:30 pm: Walk or ride the public bus to Spanish class.
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm: Spanish class.
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm: Free time to explore the city, take a stroll through the central park, browse the vendors’ stands at the market, get some ice cream, go to the internet café, or swim in the local public swimming pool.
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm: Dinner with your host family. Dinners in Atenas often include gallo pinto, meat, vegetables, and tropical fruit. Dinner is usually a smaller affair than lunch.
8:00 pm – 10:00 pm: Relax at home, watch a movie and practice Spanish with your host family, prepare for tomorrow’s volunteering, or plan a weekend trip to go swimming along the Pacific or Caribbean coast, hiking in the rainforest, visiting one of the numerous volcanoes, or white water rafting and zip-lining.
Project and class schedules, meals, and free time activities may vary depending on the details of your placement.
Volunteers must be 18 years of age or older, though exceptions to this age requirement may be made on a case-by-case basis. Successful volunteers are hardworking, flexible, and open to truly immersing themselves in Costa Rican culture.
This is one of the best experiences that I have ever had. I loved Costa Rica and my family. This experience will forever hold a place in my heart and has given me a more diverse look at the world.
-Nicole, Volunteer in Costa Rica
Elyse is from Ontario, Canada. She studies Sociology and English at university. She was a volunteer with the World Endeavors Teaching volunteer program in Costa Rica.