The Nonprofit Quarterly estimates there are more than 60 million volunteers in America. Most volunteers do their work without fanfare for years on end. The volunteers help their communities because they have the time, expertise they can share, and in many cases, to stay connected. For the elderly, volunteering can be especially rewarding as wisdom can be shared, and boredom and isolation of living at home avoided.
In our EPOCH communities, many of our residents volunteer without leaving the premises. For example, in EPOCH at Melbourne, residents meet with children from a local elementary school regularly to read, do history projects and share time together. For many of these children, whose grandparents live outside the area, this interaction can be a wonderful learning experience. In EPOCH Senior Living in Providence, students from Brown Medical School stop by regularly to visit with residents. These residents have volunteered to work with the young, future physicians, to expose them to issues of aging adults. Residents at our Chestnut Hill community do the same.
The Nonprofit Quarterly included an article recently that demonstrates how volunteer work can be restorative for older adults. The story features a 90-year-old woman who helps out – for a decade – at a local elementary school. She had no experience, she thought, but her ability to guide reading has been valuable; and the connection she has established with the school children has helped her cope with the death of her husband.
Click here to read “The Soul of Community: A 90-Year-Old Volunteer Mentor.”