Seniors Volunteering to Help Fellow Seniors

Discover what makes senior volunteers so special.

By Clare Absher RN, BSN  

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The motives shared among senior volunteers to help other seniors are well-founded and varied.

Senior volunteers express a multitude of well-founded reasons for their involvement in community outreach and support programs for the aging population. Many of the usual reasons for volunteering that we are accustomed to hearing apply such as: it can be very rewarding, a desire to give back to the community, or making positive use of extra time. Another common cause conveyed is to, "make a difference in people's lives." While clearly all great reasons, senior volunteers contribute additional, unique aspects when helping in their aging community. Senior volunteers, rooted in inspirational intentions, are able to engender a special bond with their peers.

Senior volunteers share common life experiences and wisdom with other seniors. Exchanging stories from the past is meaningful among peers.

Seniors volunteering their time to help their peers is distinctly special because of their similar backgrounds and life experiences. Senior volunteers and their senior recipients have like-minded interests and views. They share a piece of history that is unique to their generation, along with common wisdom that bonds them. Living through the same times holds even more meaning to both because they can easily relate their experiences with each other. Although younger volunteers have their own special hallmarks of contribution, this mutual "knowing" feeling among volunteer and recipient is not something younger generations are privy to. Senior volunteers especially enjoy reminiscing and exchanging stories about "the olden days" with fellow seniors.

Senior volunteers offer companionship to lonely seniors in need. The friendships formed are rewarding for both.

Senior volunteers contribute not only their time but, more notably, their companionship; which is offered at a time when it is needed more than ever. Many elderly folks have lost plenty of their family and friends as they grow older leaving them alone, sad, and depressed. The friendships that form between senior volunteers and fellow seniors are extraordinarily rewarding for both. Growing old and outliving one's peers can be hauntingly difficult but this bond between seniors helps to make it less lonely. A senior volunteer is particularly empathetic to another senior's sadness or despair because these feelings may be familiar to them as well. Senior volunteers recognize the value of friendships with fellow seniors and are lucky to experience the true meaning of mutual appreciation and indispensable support.

Senior volunteers have expertise and knowledge to contribute to helping other seniors. Aging folks can benefit from many of these services and skills.

Senior volunteers have job skills and years of expertise to contribute to community projects and organizations. They have a lifetime of talents and experiences eager to share with others. For senior volunteers, finding their niche among those agencies that serve seniors is particularly satisfying. Volunteers are often retired accountants, lawyers, and business owners who enjoy sharing their wisdom. Senior recipients, in turn, are in need of just these types of services such as accounting, financial consulting, and elder care planning. Other senior volunteers enjoy sharing their creative, fun-loving, or adventurous side with the seniors they help in the community.

Senior volunteers are dedicated to helping fellow seniors stay in their homes. They share a unique understanding and have similar trepidations.

Senior volunteers have a unique understanding of the fears that the older folks face, predominately about aging in place. Likewise, volunteers struggle with their own anxieties about remaining in their own homes. Senior Companions is a national program that connects seniors to other seniors to help them live independently in their homes. Some volunteers provide respite services for full-time caregivers, who are overwhelmed by the demands of caring for loved ones at home. Respite is another way that volunteers help seniors to age in place by providing well-deserved relief to families in their communities. Senior Companion volunteers can provide assistance with daily activities to help seniors remain independent in their homes, and avoid having to move to institutional care. Their dedication and empathy surrounding future uncertainties is another common thread that bonds senior volunteers with fellow seniors. Senior Companion volunteers also work to fill in gaps in community services, whether it involves transportation to doctor's appointments or delivering meals to their home via Meals on Wheels programs.

Senior volunteers experience better physical, mental, and emotional health. They avoid isolation and have an improved quality of life.

Seniors are at high risk of social isolation, depression, and loneliness. Seniors who volunteer combat their own isolation, depression, and loneliness while helping combat these ailments in others. The notion of putting another's needs before your own takes on new meaning when it comes to senior volunteers helping fellow seniors. Seniors who stay busy with volunteer work find that it may serve as a distraction and results in reducing stress. The health benefits for senior volunteers are not only emotional but physical, too. The National Institute on Aging reports that volunteering may lower the risk of chronic health problems in seniors and can even improve longevity. Senior volunteers have better endurance, as more volunteering translates into a more active lifestyle. Some studies support that volunteering not only helps you live longer but, at the same time, can offer an improved quality of life.

Help others to help yourself!

Volunteering can lead to new discoveries, new friendships, and promote a positive outlook on life. Senior volunteers find that senior recipients are especially grateful for their help; aging adults are exceptionally grateful and do not hold back on expressing their gratitude! In turn, volunteers are thankful for a sense of purpose. When volunteering there are a variety of recipients to help and countless ways to contribute; but you will not find a more symbiotic collaboration than seniors helping seniors. It's, without doubt, a win-win endeavor for all involved!

Need help finding volunteer opportunities? Refer to several volunteer agencies that bring together senior volunteers with fellow seniors:

Clare Absher RN BSN

About the Author

Clare Absher is a Registered Nurse with 44 years of experience. Most of her experience is in home health serving as a caregiver, educator, patient advocate, and liaison between families and community resources. She has also worked in acute care, assisted living, and retirement settings. She is passionate about helping families care for their elderly loved ones at home.

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