We know from our work with seniors that the more active an individual the more likely that he or she will continue to remain independent while aging.
Omaha, NE (PRWEB) February 16, 2012
Pauline Grace and Ernest Bradbury live miles apart and don’t know one another, but the two do share one thing in common. They are volunteers who have discovered the personal benefits of giving back by donating their time and talents to their communities.
Grace, of Harper Woods, Mich., dedicates her time to the local Services for Older Citizens – an organization of about 400 volunteers that provides transportation, Meals on Wheels and various other services to older adults in her area. She’s there once, sometimes twice a week helping with any number of tasks.
“I update their computer mailing list, answer the phones, call bingo, pick up the bread and package it for delivery to senior citizens. I also stuff envelopes, just whatever they need,” said Harper, 77. “I help plan teas monthly that take about six hours, but I wouldn’t miss it. I also help with parties. We get calls to assist quite often and it feels good.”
Ernest Bradbury, 78, has helped an estimated 46 hospice patients in the past 11 years in his volunteer work with Hospice of Lubbock, Texas, who has recognized him for his efforts in the organization’s newsletter. He spends from one to several hours per patient, comforting the dying or providing respite to their family members.
“I see the wives relax once they and their husbands get to know me. That’s because they can leave their sick husbands and run errands or get their hair fixed. Some don’t want to leave, but you have to convince them it’s O.K. to go, just for a little while.”
While both Harper and Bradbury get much personal satisfaction and fulfillment from volunteering, they also have discovered various other personal benefits. A survey of senior volunteers, conducted by the Home Instead Senior Care® network, has revealed that 98 percent of older adult volunteers stay active and feel better physically and emotionally, 74 percent are able to overcome feeling depressed, and 75 percent say that volunteering helps them manage their chronic conditions.
Pauline Grace can relate. “I have fibromyalgia, and my neck and back hurt at times,” she explained. “When I am active, I forget about the pain. Often when I get home, I think, ‘Oh, my gosh, I got through the whole day without feeling the pain.’ I don’t like to tell others, and it isn’t horrible. But I think volunteering helps.”
Bradbury began volunteering after his wife died. “It’s hard sometimes, and the feelings of loss just don’t go away,” he said. “When I first went to school for the hospice volunteering, they said it’s difficult to convince men that it’s OK to cry – that men just don’t cry – but they do. Men do cry, husbands cry. People are lonely. You just let them talk. The key to this volunteering job is to listen, listen, listen,” said the former city employee.
It’s no surprise that volunteering generates such benefits for older adults, said President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Jeff Huber of Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care® network. “We know from our work with seniors that the more active an individual the more likely that he or she will continue to remain independent while aging. Those who find a way to give back, even if they have their own aches and pains and need help, realize many benefits.”
Now the Home Instead Senior Care network is honoring senior volunteers through the Salute to Senior ServiceSM program. Nominate a senior 65 and older who volunteers at least 15 hours a month and he or she could receive much-deserved recognition as a Senior HeroSM. State winners as well as a national winner will be announced during Older Americans Month in May 2012. State winners will receive plaques and their story will be posted on the SalutetoSeniorService.com website. Home Instead, Inc. will make a $5,000 donation to each of the national Salute to Senior Service winner’s designated non-profit charity of choice.
In the meantime, the Home Instead Senior Care network encourages seniors to keep volunteering and invites them to check out the Salute to Senior Service website for resources and information about volunteer opportunities.
“The one thing that I hear constantly from the seniors in our programs is that volunteering gives them a purpose in life – they say that it’s the reason they get up in the morning,” said Dr. Erwin Tan, director of Senior Corps who serves as the expert U.S. source for the program. “I think we have an opportunity to redefine what it means to be retired given that Americans will be spending a third of their adult lives after the traditional age of retirement,” he added.
For Pauline Grace, the motivations are simple. “It’s a pleasure to volunteer, and I don’t know if I could just sit around at home and do nothing. I think that would depress me, if I had to stay home without anything to do day in and day out.”
ABOUT HOME INSTEAD SENIOR CARE
Founded in 1994 in Omaha by Lori and Paul Hogan, the Home Instead Senior Care® network is the world's largest provider of non-medical in-home care services for seniors, with more than 950 independently owned and operated franchises providing in excess of 45 million hours of care throughout the United States, Canada, Japan, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, Switzerland, Germany, South Korea, Finland, Austria, Italy, Puerto Rico and the Netherlands. Local Home Instead Senior Care offices employ more than 65,000 CAREGiversSM worldwide who provide basic support services – assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), personal care, medication reminders, meal preparation, light housekeeping, errands, incidental transportation and shopping – which enable seniors to live safely and comfortably in their own homes for as long as possible. At Home Instead Senior Care, it’s relationship before task, while continuing to provide superior quality service that enhances the lives of seniors everywhere.