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Kevin-Barry Henry

The Benefits of Volunteering with The Elderly

By: Lise Garneau and Kevin-Barry Henry, #1 Bestselling Author

French Version

Are you looking to get involved in a unique and enjoyable experience? You may want to consider becoming a volunteer with the elderly.

You will probably find that giving your time brings you as much benefit to the people you are spending time with. Especially when volunteering means spending time with people who have more experience at life (and stories) than we do. Working with the elderly is cause that is very close to my heart and we will talk about it in this article.

Here are 4 important points to know about volunteering with elderly that might help you.

  1. The benefits of volunteering

Seen from the outside, volunteering appears to be a selfless act. However, you may find that volunteering can also contribute to your well-being and health in several ways. But let’s put our own good feelings aside and consider the benefits to the recipients of just a little of our time.

Your elder audience may experience a few of the following benefits from your time and attentiveness:

  • Feeling of calm and well-being;
  • Feel important and useful to the community;
  • Better ability to manage stress;
  • Improved quality of sleep;
  • Reduced risk of heart disease;
  • Feeling of personal accomplishment;
  • Less loneliness and boredom;
  • Reduced mortality, especially in people over the age of 60.
  • Increased self-esteem and self confidence
  1. Different types of volunteering

Volunteer activities are many and varied. It’s up to you to decide what the level of your involvement will be – a few hours a week, every two weeks, on an ad hoc basis or to help out occasionally. You’re in control of your own schedule.

You can get involved with young and old people. Why not volunteer for meals-on-wheels, for an organization or a festival in your area?

You can also become a volunteer reader or help out at an animal shelter, or just help a neighbor in need! You have so many choices to lend a helping hand.

Keeping company with an older person, accompanying them and visiting them to chat and listen to them can help heal their loneliness. We are hearing more and more talk about the loneliness of the elderly and the negative affects from the obvious psychological drawbacks to cognitive function. There are so many who are alone all year. Why not take care of it by giving them a little of our time?

  1. Where do we start?

The famous question: to find the activity that suits you, may I suggest you start by looking inward. What are you passionate about? Who do you want to help? These are important questions to ask yourself and a good place to start before getting involved in a cause.

One more thing you can do is find a volunteer postition that interests you and for which you have the required skills and availabilities. Finding the right organization and cause is essential to a rewarding volunteer experience for all involved.

With the Internet today, municipalities and cities maintain lists of organizations that anyone can access and register as volunteers.

  1. Here are Five more good reasons to volunteer:
  • Volunteering expands your social network;
  • Volunteering can help you to develop new skills;
  • Volunteering helps you to put your skills to work;
  • Volunteering allows you to explore new career options and;
  • Volunteering can make a difference for the causes you care about.

It is good to want to volunteer but do are you sure you know exactly what volunteering is?

Volunteering takes place in a structured way between a person and an organization.

It’s about:

  • To voluntarily commit to serving the community;
  • To participate, with pleasure, in improving the quality of life in society;
  • To share their energy, knowledge, skills, interests, passions and,
  • Offer your time to meet a need without receiving a salary.

The value of volunteering

Volunteering is universal and open to everyone. It is based on free commitment, solidarity, dignity and trust. We value, recognize and encourage that volunteering brings a certain well-being to populations, communities and at our planet.

We salute this volunteer work as the vital expression of our common humanity. Volunteering is rich in value and experience, simply beyond the time that we are putting in.

Anyone can make a significant contribution to their community or to a cause close to their heart. The advantages you will derive from it are numerous and often unexpected. Many volunteers say they receive more than they give. In any case, the person who offers his time often does much more than he or she thinks.

Here’s how:

By taking the time to listen to a person, You allow them to feel understood and less alone;

By helping a child to do his or her homework and learn, You help them (hopefully) enjoy school a little more and that will certainly help them succeed at it;

By accompanying an elderly person to their medical appointment, you will help them to take care of their health and be welcome company;

By helping the educators of a daycare center, you willI participate in the development of toddlers and their learning;

By leading a visual arts workshop, by organizing activities, you can bring life into the daily lives of seniors;

Accompany the elderly, keep them company, listen to them, spoil them;

Did you know?

Many single elderly people have an urgent need for relationships in their life:

The death of a spouse, the loss of a driver’s license, limited income, disabilities and chronic illnesses make social contact rare and difficult. With no one to talk with, many older adults are at risk of being forgotten and dying alone. Isolation has a significant impact on health, including anxiety and depression, which can lead to suicide.

Ignored and forgotten, Canadian seniors die completely alone. So lonely that they are sometimes not found until a month later. It is a growing problem.

One third of Canadian seniors live alone, often unable to leave their apartment or their room. They see no one and no one sometimes for days.

A coroner has just published a devastating report on a 65-year-old woman living in Quebec, who received no call or visit, whose death was not noticed until a month later, when an odor escaped from her housing.

These sad cases are no longer rare. In fact, the coroner’s office currently lists over 100 Seniors bodies of unclaimed.

It seems wrong to let people die at home without anyone noticing, but that is the reality.

They need us, our help, our love right now. So let’s act for their well-being, but for our own future too.

With gratitude,

Lise Garneau and Kevin-Barry Henry

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