Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University recently discovered that seniors who regularly volunteer decrease their blood pressure by 40 percent! The study's lead author, Rodlescia S. Sneed, said, "As people get older, social transitions like retirement, bereavement and the departure of children from the home often leave older adults with fewer natural opportunities for social interaction. Participating in volunteer activities may provide older adults with social connections that they might not have otherwise. There is strong evidence that having good social connections promotes healthy aging and reduces risk for a number of negative health outcomes."
Volunteering is also great for the brain. Dr. Patricia Boyle of Rush University in Chicago explains that as we grow older, we may lose our sense of purpose in life—and this actually puts us at greater risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Volunteering provides the kind of meaningful activity that promotes cognitive health.
Volunteer service also is a powerful tool for fighting depression. University of California, Riverside neurologists used sophisticated brain imaging to demonstrate that practicing acts of kindness boosts connections in the brain that reverse depression and apathy.
Indeed, volunteering is such a potent tonic for senior health that in 2012, the American Medical Association recommended that doctors "prescribe" volunteer service for their patients!
Your Community Needs You
In these days of austerity for our social support programs, volunteers are needed more than ever, yet the schedules of so many younger adults are full with family and job responsibilities. Fortunately, seniors are stepping up to the plate in record numbers: According to the U.S. Administration on Aging, one-fourth of all seniors volunteer—that’
If you would like to give back in this way, the first step is to find a good match between the available opportunities in and around Ann Arbor and your own skills and interests. First consider ...
-Your special skills.
-Your work experience.
-Special knowledge you can share.
-Your interests and the things that are important to you.
-The amount of time and commitment you are willing and able to offer.
Next, it’s time to find local organizations that welcome volunteers and provide training for committed individuals. Many seniors have found rewarding opportunities in …
-Hospitals, nursing homes, hospices and other healthcare organizations.
-Schools and youth organizations.
-Parks and recreation departments.
-Cultural organizations, such as museums, theaters, art societies and music groups.
If none of these ideas inspire you, why not create your own volunteer opportunity?
What if a senior is living with health problems such as arthritis, cognitive impairment or the effects of stroke? According to Arizona State University psychology professor Dr. Morris Okun, volunteering can help us live longer—and the benefit is even greater for seniors with disabilities. Okun says, "As functional limitations increase, the risk of dying increases, but not among those who volunteer. By helping other people, you are actually helping yourself." No matter what a person’s abilities, there is a volunteer job in the community that will meet a need and make the community a better place.
"Families can enable their senior loved ones to continue long-time volunteer service, or help them find new opportunities,"
About Right at Home
Founded in 1995, Right at Home offers home healthcare and companionship and assistance to seniors and disabled adults who want to continue to live independently. Local Right at Home offices are independently owned and operated and directly employ and supervise all caregiving staff, each of whom is thoroughly screened, trained, bonded and insured prior to entering a client’s home. Right at Home’s global office is based in Omaha, Nebraska, with franchise offices located in 42 states nationwide and throughout the world. For more information on Right at Home, read the Right at Home caregiving blog at http://www.rightathome.net/
About Right at Home of Ann Arbor
The Ann Arbor Michigan office of Right at Home is a locally owned and operated franchise office of Right at Home, Inc., providing senior care to the communities of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Saline, Belleville, Plymouth, Chelsea, Dearborn, Canton, Dexter, and beyond. For more information, contact Right at Home of Ann Arbor at http://www.rightathome.net/