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Salute to Senior Service

09/19/2016 10:45AM ● Published by Jennifer Gonzalez

By Home Instead Senior Care

 

Many of us may joke about having “old timers” disease, but when cognitive impairment strikes one of our parents, the laughter often turns to worry.

 

Today’s seniors are volunteering in big numbers and in big ways and the results are all positive. Senior volunteers are engaged with churches, schools, hospitals, senior centers and other nonprofit organizations doing hands-on projects; preparing, collecting or distributing food; or providing companionship. Most senior volunteers say that their volunteer work is very important to them.

 

Without a doubt, these seniors are doing great service that helps many. But there is an added bonus – their volunteerism provides important health benefits to them as well. Nearly all senior volunteers say they feel better emotionally and physically.

                                               

If you aren’t a volunteer already, ask at your place of worship or contact your local non-profit organizations or senior center for ideas. It’s likely they have a whole host of opportunities just waiting for someone like you to step forward. There are many ways to get involved and you can contribute as little or as much time as you have available.

 

In addition to helping others and yourself, you’ll be setting a great example for the younger people in your life; perhaps inspiring them to volunteer as well.

 

 

The importance of senior service

 

The number of older Americans who volunteer is staggering and their service is having an enormous positive impact on quality of life and the economy.

 

The Corporation for National and Community Service says that:

 

·         More than 20.7 million older adults contributed more than 3.3 billion hours of service in their communities per year.

o   25% are 55 and older.

·         The yearly economic benefit of this service to the nation is valued at $75 billion.

Source: 2014 Volunteering and Civic Life in America report by the Corporation for National and Community Service

 

The Corporation for National and Community Service says that:

·         52% of seniors volunteer their time through unpaid community service.

·         One in five seniors (20%) said he or she started volunteering at the age of 65 or older.

·         The age groups with the highest median hours among volunteers are ages 65-74 (92 hours) and those 75 and older (90 hours).

·         The top-ranked volunteer activities for 55-plus volunteers were collecting and distributing food, fundraising, and providing professional or management assistance to nonprofits—demonstrating that boomers and other older volunteers are using their lifetime of skills and experience to meet community needs.

Senior volunteers usually split their time between two organizations, with the most popular being religious groups, senior centers, educational groups, nonprofits and healthcare organizations.

 

Typically, senior volunteers are engaged in hands-on projects; preparing, collecting or distributing food; providing companionship; fundraising; or training, teaching or coaching. A majority of senior volunteers said they also put their money where their time is by donating financially to the organizations where they volunteer.

 

Many seniors say the availability of more time in their lives is just one of the reasons why they volunteer. More importantly, they say they want to help others, offer meaningful assistance and make a difference in their communities.

 

When asked how volunteering compares to other things in their lives, seniors say volunteering is among the most important things they do. As a result, a majority of senior volunteers say they plan on volunteering forever.

 

 

Health Benefits of Senior Service

 

The Home Instead Senior Care Network conducted a national survey of senior volunteers to measure their community impact and to better understand the motivations driving their volunteerism.

 

Almost all senior volunteers said that they gave time to causes in their community because they wanted to help others and make a meaningful difference. But something else positive happens – the volunteers end up feeling better physically, emotionally and mentally themselves. In fact, 95% of senior volunteers feel that seniors who volunteer are healthier and happier than seniors who do not volunteer.

 

These findings are supported by the Corporation for National Community Service, which found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life.

 

In the Home Instead Senior Care study:

·         Seven out of ten senior volunteers say they overcame feelings of isolation and depression by volunteering.

·         Three-fourths of senior volunteers who suffer from chronic health conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, say that staying active through volunteering helps them better manage their health problems.

·         98% say volunteering gives them a sense of purpose and it provides an opportunity to share their skills and experience.

·         Many enjoy the socialization aspect, and more than 40% say they typically volunteer with someone else.

·         92% of seniors say volunteering is a way to make new friends, and this is important at a stage in life when numbers of friends may be dwindling.

 

Senior volunteers not only strengthen their communities, but they also provide important health benefits to themselves. The close of the summer season signals the return to routine, so now is the time to incorporate some volunteer hours into your schedule!





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