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Volunteer Activities Help Seniors Find Fulfillment

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January 31, 2014

Seniors want to feel needed.

Have you ever considered how your aging loved one’s role in life has changed over the past decade or two? Maybe Dad used to be the one everyone could count on for help and support, but now he’s the one who needs help.

In that role reversal, many seniors might seem to lose their sense of purpose, and may even feel like a burden on their family. It can be stressful to you knowing that your loved one feels unfulfilled or unhappy.

An Activity to Boost Health and Happiness

Now consider this: More than 90 percent of seniors who volunteer report feeling healthier and happier than those who do not volunteer, according to a Home Instead Senior Care® survey.

Roger, a 95-year-old World War II veteran who volunteers for the Strategic Air & Space Museum, says, “Volunteering was something active and it kept me with other people too so I didn’t become a hermit. Keeps me active both physically and mentally…and that keeps you from getting bored with yourself.”

Volunteer activities give seniors a way to feel needed again, something to look forward to regularly and plenty of opportunity to stay active physically, socially and mentally—even for seniors who have become frail or isolated due to physical and mental limitations.

Making Volunteer Activities Possible for Seniors

Family caregivers often hesitate to encourage volunteer activities because they worry that their loved one’s limitations might make participation difficult or out of the question. But the reality is that just about anyone can volunteer in some small way, and it can make a world of difference to your loved one’s well-being.

Here are four ways to turn potential worries into can-do realities:

Worry #1: Dad can’t even tie his own shoes. How can he volunteer?

The reality: While your dad may not be able to do all that he once could, think of all the things he can do. Maybe he’d enjoy serving as a greeter (either standing or sitting) at your place of worship or the local senior center. Check out the Give-Back Program for adaptable volunteer activity ideas.

Worry #2: Mom can’t volunteer because of her chronic condition.

The reality: Staying active through volunteering helps 75 percent of U.S. seniors and 86 percent of Canadian seniors manage their chronic conditions, according to research conducted by the Home Instead Senior Care network. About 77 percent of seniors with chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes or dementia say an important reason they volunteer is to overcome feeling depressed.

Worry #3: Dad doesn’t want to do anything besides sit and watch T.V. all day.

The reality: There may be an underlying reason why your dad prefers to avoid public or social situations—maybe he’s embarrassed about not being able to function as he once could or worries about a bathroom accident. Look for solutions that address the cause of his social withdrawal before encouraging a volunteer activity appropriate for his capabilities.

Worry #4: My loved one’s volunteer activities will create more work for me.

The reality: It doesn’t have to! Call your local Home Instead Senior Care franchise office to learn about transportation services and companionship services designed to aid your loved one’s volunteer activities and encourage a better quality of life. A trained CAREGiverSM can accompany your loved one to and from the volunteer activity or facilitate activities that can be done from home, like writing letters to soldiers or putting together care packages.

When your loved one has a purpose and something to look forward to regularly, you’ll likely find yourself less stressed and worrying less about your loved one’s well being. Learn more about the value of volunteering at

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. February 12, 2014 at 2:02 pm | Posted by YVONNE GOERGEN

    hello, my Mom is currently living in East Mesa, AZ. She has epilepsy and may have a small petite seizure at times. usually 1 or 2 per month. She is living alone and wants to find a job. she is going crazy sitting in her apt. with not much to do. She is only 65 and stays active by walking and trying to find people around her apt community to talk to. can you give me some volunteer locations for her to go to? thank you so much.


  2. February 7, 2014 at 6:06 am | Posted by Bruce Squiers

    Thanks for the article. I'm a caregiver for Home Instead, and find that if I can get the client involved in even a small project, it makes them (and me) feel useful and worthwhile. Volunteering is a good way to do this.


  3. February 6, 2014 at 10:51 am | Posted by Christine Clickner

    I currently work as a Provider to home bound elderly individuals. One of my client's is a Viet Nam vet; adopting a soldier may be some way for this individual to volunteer from home!!! Thank you for the great idea!


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