AdoptaFriendCLT

Building friendship with seniors in our community.

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Why?


While having lunch with a co-worker today, I brought up the Adopt a Friend CLT program and she was very interested in learning more. Her first question was very important – why the elderly? Why was a passionate to focus on the elderly?

There are many reasons, but the reasons that are the most important to me include sharing knowledge, giving back and filling a void. Elderly community members have so many stories to share! Taking time out of your day to listen and also learn would be beneficial for both the volunteer and the senior. Seniors have lived a long life and have great information to share about their journeys through life. I believe the best advice comes from someone who has lived a full life. Even though technology continues to change, the most important part of our lives will always be family and love. I would love to hear about lessons learned from a senior.

Giving back is also important to me, so that’s my strong second reason for volunteering with the elderly. There are so many charitable causes, but the senior community really stuck out to me because of the personal connection. I have a lot of love and care to give, so taking the time out of my day to talk to someone who may need a friend really makes me feel good. Seeing the smiles and joy from seniors I worked with was so rewarding – and now I’m addicted and want more.

Filling a void is another reason why volunteering with seniors is important to me. Since my grandparents passed away years ago, I miss the opportunity to build relationships with them. I missed out on creating a strong bond with my grandparents and would love to give that love to another senior who may need a friend in their life. I want to fill the emptiness of grandparents in my life. Relationships are so important and would make my life feel complete and hopefully impact the life of a senior companion as well.

There are many other reasons I’m drawn to support our seniors, but those are my top three reasons. I recently found an article online listing the top ten reasons on listdose.com titled, Why We Should Respect Our Elders. I loved all the reasons and agree with the author, Sana Pujani. Read more reasons why the elderly community is important to respect and love by clicking here: http://listdose.com/10-reason-why-we-should-respect-our-elders/

References

Pujani, S. (2014). We Should Respect Our Elders. List Dose.com.    Retrieved from:
http://listdose.com/10-reason-why-we-should-respect-our-elders/

Image retrieved from: themarketingrobot.com 

Filed under elderly seniors respectelders volunteer

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Are Tips Necessary?

Do you really need tips in order to start volunteering? I recently read some tips online that I found very helpful. Since many of us always think about volunteering, but may not be ready to take the plunge of a commitment. Reading tips from Danielle Hoffman in Volunteering: Tips on how to give back to seniors was very insightful. Check it out by clicking here:

http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/Jan/23/volunteering-seniors-companionship-community/

While each tip is important, the tip that stuck out to me the most was the time commitment tip. Deciding on how much time you have available to volunteer is important. Of course, we all wish had more time in the day, but make sure to be realistic to what you commit to with a volunteer activity. Personally, I have decided to commit to one day a month to build a friendship with a senior in our community. Does that seem like a realistic expectation for anyone else?

Another tip that I would add to this list is networking with other volunteers. Volunteering takes commitment and creating a supportive network would be helpful. Having a network would avoid you feeling alone on the journey of giving back to the community. Building a network may also encourage others to jump on board. Sometimes, others may just need the support of friends or family to participate in volunteer activities.

I would love to build a network of volunteers in Charlotte who are passionate about giving back. The supportive network can provide tips about volunteering experiences, tips and recommendations. After building a base, we could even hold gathering to meet one another and talk one on one about our journeys? I am excited to give back to the community on more of a regular basis and would love to have the support of others.

Who’s with me!?

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Health Benefits of Volunteering – Really!

Volunteering makes you feel great. The feeling of helping someone else and making a difference in their life is one of the best feelings. While many may know this or have experienced this great joy, we can now confirm that volunteering actually makes a difference in our own health!

I found an article on Greatist.com which stated that “people who volunteered for selfless reasons and to create valuable relationships decreased their risk of mortality” (Schwecherl, L. 2013, para 2). Volunteering makes us smile, feel better on the inside and brings happiness into our lives. Building relationships with others can also be a reality check and put the hectic things in your life into perspective of what others may be going through. Click here to read more about the positive long term effects: http://greatist.com/happiness/health-benefits-volunteering

If volunteering not only makes us feel great AND can improve our health, why aren’t we doing it more? I have always told myself that I’m going to start volunteering weekly or monthly with a facility, but never get around to organizing or being able to commit to the task. I want to volunteer, but feel that I pack my life too full and keep pushing volunteer activities to the side because it’s not a ‘necessary’ component of my life. While volunteering may not be ‘necessary,’ knowing what an impact it has on others and for your own personal impact it should be necessary!

I am ready to take the step to make volunteering a required component of my life. Are you?

References

Schwecherl, L. (2013). The health benefits of volunteering. Greatist. Retrieved from:

http://greatist.com/happiness/health-benefits-volunteering

Filed under elderly volunteer wellness

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The Value of Time

After reading the article below, I felt guilty for feeling a lack of time in my life lately. Between school, work, school and more work, I have felt a bit exhausted and have had a difficult time keeping up with daily life. But after reading this article, things were put back into perspective.

Life is short. Plain a simple statement, yet very true. Seniors have a different outlook on life because they may have limited time left. They want to enjoy every moment and put value in the little things, versus how many of us may over analyze every moment. 

I think we can learn many things from building friendships with seniors in our community. In our busy lives, I think it’s important to stop and take a minute to volunteer, think about life and appreciate everything we have around us. 

http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/11/what-makes-older-people-happy/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0 

#elderly #seniors #volunteering #happy

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Penny for Your Thoughts

Would you participate in an Adopt-a-Grandparent program in your community? If so, how often would you be available to meet with a senior?
In a recent conversation with the directory at a facility, we discussed identifying one day a month that the volunteer would need to commit to building the relationship - whatever day works best for both schedules. Would you be available to commit to one day a month to spend an hour with a senior? 
Please let me know your thoughts! Thank you. 

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Cookies, Singing and even Dancing

I went on my second visit to Aldersgate Retirement Community yesterday morning. What a great way to start out the weekend! Our group of three volunteers helped the seniors decorate cookies. I was unaware that we would be working with the Alzheimer’s patients, so that was a pleasant surprise when we arrived.

We were all very impressed with the dementia facility. The common area of the facility was replicated to look like a city sidewalk. Creating the atmosphere of being outside helps the patients feel as though they are leaving the locked-down facility. They also placed a bird cage in the common area, so with the birds chirping it really feel like you were outside.

The activity director, Lydia, was very helpful and a great resource about the facility and seniors. We brought sugar cookies and packets of frosting to decorate the cookies. I worked with three lovely ladies and enjoyed listening to their conversations. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, until I was asked the same question three times in a row. I was sad when I realized the ladies were not there mentally, but became more comfortable as the activity continued. The ladies asked me several times if I could bring my mother next time because they wanted to meet her, which was so sweet. The group was energetic and even started singing along with a member of our group. Next, one of the gentleman started playing piano. He was a very talented pianist and was a huge hit at the center. He did lose his place in the middle of a couple songs and became frustrated he could not remember the next notes. I had a difficult time watching his frustration, but he moved on and received support from everyone in the room. I felt great being a part of the supportive group.

After the cookie decorating and piano songs, we started cleaning up our supplies, but then Lydia mentioned it was time for some dancing. This honestly freaked me out, but when the song “Happy” came on, all of the residents started moving which made me instantly smile. I encouraged two women to stand up and dance with me. They couldn’t move much, but they did their best and we had a great time. I was even told that I was an excellent dancer, which is very funny. 

All of the patients were so delightful. I really enjoyed our time together and know they enjoyed us as well. When I was leaving, I wondered how my project would work with Alzheimer patients. Since they have difficulty with their memory, how would you possibly build a relationship with them? I quickly realized that my program is to encourage relationships with our elderly community, not just about a two-way relationship. The seniors I spent time with just want to be happy and be loved. Providing extra care and time with our seniors is what matters the most. The feeling you have after making a senior smile, laugh or dance is the best feeling possible. Life is short, give back and give love.  

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What Should I Say?

Since I have started this project, some of my friends have mentioned interest in volunteering with a senior, but have also expressed reservations about how to build the relationship. Many of my friends stated they were comfortable interacting with their grandparents, but were not sure how they should interact with another senior. What would they talk about? What could they have in common?

Seniors are just like us, but a bit older. They have lived long lives full of stories! I think we can all benefit from hearing someone else’s perspective on life. Hearing another person’s life stories and experiences may open our eyes with new ways to look at the world. Starting a conversation with a senior may be difficult at first, but I think many people may be surprised at how interesting the conversation can be for both the volunteer and the senior.

I’m going on my second visit to Aldersgate Retirement Community with a small group from work to decorate cookies again with the seniors. I was a bit hesitant the last time I was there, but know I will be more relaxed during this visit, so I look forward to interacting more with the seniors. Maybe there will be one senior in particular who I will bond with and could start an Adopt-A-Grandparent relationship with?

I read an interesting article today which gave some great advice on starting conversations with the elderly. For those who may question what they could say or do with the seniors, this is the perfect article for you! Read more by clicking here: http://blog.ecaring.com/butwhat-do-i-say-conversation-starters-with-seniors-and-the-elderly/. I love the ideas of looking at pictures together to help share stories and memories with one another.

During my last visit at Aldersgate Retirement Community, the also staff mentioned how much the seniors love musical performances as well. I wish I had a musical talent to share with them, but realized I could engage some of my musician friends to join in a group activity.

The last tip that I really liked was the act of reading to a senior. Hearing a story through another voice is gratifying and moving. Sharing stories through a book may be the perfect way to open the door to personal stories. Some of the best stories are those not in a book.