Time is a precious commodity in our fast-paced life today. However, the benefits of volunteering can make said time worth it. By offering vital help to people in need, important causes or even your own community, you are essentially giving back to others.
When it comes to volunteering in a care home, one does not necessarily need to be experienced in elderly care to contribute to elders. From simple tasks like talking, reading, or playing games with seniors or even utilizing specialized skills like painting or music, or even helping with shopping errands and teaching seniors out with how to use a smartphone, any volunteers can make the time worth it for seniors.
Here are some added benefits that comes for those who volunteer.
a) Sense of purpose
Just by spending time with senior care residents, you can help fill their lives with joy and positivity. However, the benefits of helping others go both ways. Volunteering can help give your life a strong sense of purpose and meaning that other forms of work may not. This is particularly helpful for volunteers who have too much free time on their hands, or want to try something different for a change to the usual routine.
b) Broaden Your Perspective
Additionally, connecting with someone from another generation gives you a whole new perspective about life and an appreciation for those who have come before you. It’s easy to get wrapped in the day-to-day hustle and bustles and all the issues that come with modern life. Coming from all different walks of life, residents in aged care facilities have lived through diverse experiences and many different stages of history. In working with them, you’ll often get to hear their extraordinary stories. Some of them have experienced great challenges and adversity throughout their lifetimes too. It’s a great way to get a reality check, and remind yourself that there’s more to witness in life ahead.
c) Make New Friends
Volunteering in aged care allows you to strike up friendships with people who you may not otherwise meet usually. Having the ability to forge meaningful relationships with someone previously unknown to you is both an exercise of your social skills and your moral compass. If you are a regular, you’ll have the opportunity to build strong friendships, both with senior residents and the nurses. By taking the time to get to know the residents and the nurses, you can begin to build bonds with them and understand them better as people.
d) Improves Mental Health
There is clinical evidence that helping others combats our own depression and can bring meaning to our life, relieve stress, and make us feel valued. Many studies have pointed out that oxytocin, which is the hormone that regulates social bonding is boosted immensely through regular volunteering. The social context of helping and working with others can have a profound effect on your overall psychological well-being.
Volunteering in itself can alleviate stress and boost your mood and combats depression, and keeping you in regular contact with others and helps you develop a solid support system.
e) Learning New Skills/Resume Building
There are many valuable skills gained from volunteering in aged care, in any sort of volunteer work period. One can improve their public speaking, communication, problem-solving, working well in a group, organisation and build empathy through volunteer experience. The many skills that are gained from volunteer work are often favoured by prospective employers, and this experience gives candidates an advantage in future job interviews. This may be partly because it shows you have strong core values that can be difficult to convey in a job interview setting, such as selflessness and a willingness to help.
The purest form of giving is that which yields no returns. While the benefits for volunteers are numerous, the rewards pale in comparison to those felt by the individuals that receive the gift of your time and energy. With just a small portion of your week as a volunteer, your companionship matters for our older generation in need, as they will still be able to maintain a connection to the world, and generally being happy that they are cared for in good company. So don’t hesitate to reach out and volunteer at your local elder care center, for you might just brighten someone’s day up.