Volunteering Helps Older Adults — Caring Connections


Volunteering Helps Older Adults in Tough Times

Family caregivers who want to be champions in their community should consider volunteering to help seniors.  There’s no greater time than now to step up to the plate.

“During the kind of recession and economic downturn that we’ve experienced, volunteerism is not just a nice thing to do, it is a necessity,” said Sandy Markwood, CEO of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

“Right now communities across the nation are facing high unemployment and related escalating needs for assistance at the same time that cities and county governments and non-profit organizations are facing shrinking financial resources. Older adults and their caregivers have been hard hit by the struggling economy with many finding it difficult to make ends meet,” she noted.

“Area Agencies on Aging are seeing older adults who have never needed services come through their doors seeking help. The good news is that despite the troubled economy, a recent report <http://cl.exct.net/?qs=dfd35f7a05f016a24cec92b9a82b2b01f202db3ae32d3145581540eb1bdf4f3c> by the Corporation for National and Community Service found that volunteerism in the United States increased in 2009, which shows that when times get tough, Americans rise to the call for service.

Paul Hogan, co-founder and chairman of the Home Instead Senior Care® network, agreed, saying that support is strong for the company’s volunteer Be a Santa to a Senior® program, which provides gifts to isolated and needy seniors during the holidays. Participating local Home Instead Senior Care offices throughout North America rely on donated gifts and on volunteers to help wrap and deliver them.

“Giving to seniors is also up,” Hogan said. “The consensus of a survey sampling of the Home Instead Senior Care network’s local offices that participate in the Be a Santa to a Senior program found that gifts and donations to seniors have increased across-the-board. Our franchise owner network confirmed that a lot of very open and giving hearts are concerned about the senior population.”

One reason that volunteerism may be thriving since the recession is the fulfillment that it brings. “Volunteering is actually not just a good thing to do for society; it is a good thing to do for yourself,” Markwood said. “According to recent studies, volunteering leads to greater life satisfaction and lower rates of depression.  Research has actually shown that people who volunteer live longer.”

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