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National volunteer month

The Health Benefits of Volunteering During Retirement

Whether you’re a senior looking to volunteer with your community or a young person looking to volunteer with seniors, there are many options. And volunteering results in surprising health benefits.

National Volunteer Week is here once again!

At Sunrise, we are lucky enough to welcome volunteers into our communities often and throughout the pandemic we even found ways to engage with volunteer groups virtually. From activities with school children to performances by local musicians, our residents and team members value the invaluable contributions our volunteers make to life at Sunrise.

Sunrise isn’t just the recipient of volunteerism but is also home to many residents who use their gifts and skills to volunteer too. Our communities like Sunrise of Leominster in Massachusetts who came together this winter to sew blankets for their local community and Sunrise of Shrewsbury in New Jersey who has a grandpals letter writing program with students at a local school are great examples of how our residents are giving back and building important connections.

Sometimes, however, the most impactful volunteerism happens among residents. This is the case for our resident Eugenia. When she came to Sunrise of Lincroft, Eugenia had accomplished quite a lot. A career committed to service, Eugenia had worked as a nurse for nearly 40 years, earning a Master’s in not only Psychiatric Nursing but another in Religious Studies along the way. Caring for others and spirituality were themes throughout Eugenia’s life that she wanted to share with her new neighbors at Sunrise. Eugenia wondered how she might bring those two passions together at Sunrise and felt that a Morning Rosary Club would be a great place to start.

At the beginning, Eugenia’s group was small, just a few of her closest friends praying the rosary, meditating, and discussing their faiths. Word quickly spread about this new morning routine and pretty soon Eugenia was welcoming dozens of residents to join their club including residents from the Reminiscence Neighborhood dedicated to those with memory.

Today, Eugenia’s Rosary Club is thriving and has even begun to welcome outside church groups to join in their morning prayer and meditation. What started as a small act of service, has become a source of peace and comfort for not only residents but the greater community too.

Our community members at Sunrise of Leominster, Shrewsbury and Lincroft learned firsthand that there are many benefits to volunteering for older adults. Volunteering helps to foster new connections with neighbors, use and even update life skills and expand social networks too. Each of these benefits are essential for preventing the isolation and loneliness often linked to poor health among seniors.

Moreover, research has shown benefits too!  Data suggests that seniors who volunteer enjoy greater life satisfaction, as well as better mental and physical health, than their peers who don’t volunteer. In a study conducted by the Corporation for National and Community Service, older adults who volunteer at least 100 hours a year are better at remaining active and independent. They also experience fewer incidences of depression and even longer life expectancy. If you’re interested in exploring the benefits for yourself or your loved, the Sunrise Team has a few tips to help you get started:

  • Find Your Cause: Is there an organization or issue you are passionate about but haven’t had time to explore? Take time now to reflect on what is most important in your life. For example, if you love children, you could research local organizations committed to child welfare or education. Then call or email the organization to see what volunteer opportunities are available, many of them may have remote or virtual options too!
  • Ask Your Loved Ones: Word of mouth is always a good way to find out about volunteer organizations that welcome seniors. Ask around—including on social media—to see who you know that volunteers and if they have any suggestions for you.
  • Connect Online: If you aren’t quite sure how to start your search, you might find it helpful to search an online database of volunteer opportunities. There are several sites dedicated to helping people connect with a project in their own backyard. Two that are easy to navigate are Volunteer Match and Create the Good. Most United Way agencies maintain a list of local volunteer opportunities and can be a great way to find opportunities in your area. In addition to promoting local agencies’ needs, both maintain virtual volunteer opportunities for seniors unable to travel.
  • Be Confident: Nonprofit agencies have tight budgets and can always use more help. That’s why you should not let a perceived lack of skills hold you back from offering your support. Many organizations are happy to train senior volunteers who are willing to learn.

Volunteer Your Time at Sunrise

Whether you’re a senior looking to volunteer with your community or a young person looking to volunteer with seniors, there are many options to explore. At Sunrise, our communities welcome volunteers of all kinds to come and connect with us. From sharing a special talent like playing the piano during dinner or teaching a group of residents how to do calligraphy, we look forward to your sharing your talents with us. For more information on how to volunteer with us, visit Volunteer with Us today.

Article By: Sunrise Senior Living

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