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Volunteer Your Services to Live Longer

Updated on September 25, 2016

Boomers are retiring. But what are they retiring to? A life of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Physical and mental decline is usually the case in retired folks. And how sad is that after spending so many years working towards retirement, only to die a couple of years later, or worse, to live with debilitating conditions. There are some ways to keep the mind active and sharp as well as the body. With all that knowledge, why not volunteer your services?

As a baby boomer, I have noticed some decline in my short-term memory. I can usually recall what happened to me in the fourth grade, but I can’t remember where I put my glasses, keys or whether or not I took my medicine this morning. My father is 83 years young. He has remained active and is still very sharp and witty. He gardens, rides his bike and volunteers at the Missionary Training Center in Provo each week escorting lone missionaries to dental and doctor appointments they need before they go to their mission field. He also volunteered at an elementary school where my sister teaches special needs children by reading to them once a week. He also teaches a Driver’s Education Course to Seniors for the AARP. My parents also served a two-year mission for the LDS Church in Wisconsin.

In the LDS church, senior couples volunteer to serve missions from one year to two years. Some of them enjoy it so much they go on several missions. The procedure is to apply for a mission, wait for a call from the prophet, and then go to wherever they are needed the most. They pay all living expenses themselves. Some report after their missions that it was the most rewarding thing they have ever done.

These volunteers can serve as teachers, electricians, health workers, welfare or humanitarian services workers, public relations officers, music leaders, church security, material managers, family history experts, military relations workers, public relationship officers, family services, accountants, temple builders, farmers and many other missions. Usually they are called to do something similar to what they spent their whole life doing so they can share all the wisdom they have acquired throughout their lives.

What I have noticed about these older couples is that they work together as a team, keep a very positive outlook and an attitude of service. It shines through their eyes even though their physique is starting to deteriorate. I have worked in a hospital before and admire the seniors who volunteer their time to cheer up the sick by visiting or making the rounds giving out magazines. Back in my day, they were called candy stripers.

Some older women in our neighborhood volunteer their time to help new mothers. They mentor them on how to take care of their new babies, including breast feeding, bathing, or just being available whenever a question comes up they need answered. The young mothers really appreciate all the advice they receive from these experienced mothers, and the senior ladies enjoy being around young mothers and their babies. It is a win-win situation. Some families do not have their grandparents close by, so older couples can act as foster grandparents to positively influence the children.

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  • elayne001 profile imageAUTHOR

    Elayne 

    8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    That's great Bradley. Hope you will find time once you retire to volunteer. Thanks for your comments. Aloha!

  • profile image

    Bradley Chapple 

    8 years ago

    Nice hub.

    My wife and I dream of retiring early to volunteer our time (and maybe some money) to a worthy cause (or causes).

    We already do a little volunteering, but since we are both currently stuck in the rat race it's hit or miss.

  • elayne001 profile imageAUTHOR

    Elayne 

    8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thank you Tina V. I agree with your comments. Aloha!

  • TINA V profile image

    TINA V 

    8 years ago

    By just doing any activities keeps our mind works. My mother-in-law just recently celebrated her 81st birthday. To keep her going, my sister-in-law usually gives her something to do. She still loves to cook and go out shopping too. LOL! But older people wants to feel at home and important. They also want to feel that they can still do something for others.

    This hub gives importance to older people that most often have been forgotten by their families. Volunteering work can keep them going. Nice article.

  • profile image

    piaSavage 

    8 years ago

    Congrats on your 100th hub! Please don't take my comment in the wrong spirit

    By training and work I'm a geriatric social worker. I understand what you're trying to say but your first paragraph is very wrong

    Mental decline as in dementia isn't normative. Some people do nothing and remain sharp as a tack. We begin losing words in our 30's or 40's but know so many it doesn't matter, and we can remember the word an hour later just when we don't need it.

    Sometimes you can do everything right--eat correctly, exercise, socialize, and yes volunteer and still suffer from horrible debilatiting conditions

    It's still always better to do than not to do.

    People make a big deal about visiting nursing homes around Christmas. The other eleven months are more important as far fewer people come.

  • elayne001 profile imageAUTHOR

    Elayne 

    8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thanks Rose West. You are too kind. I agree about the younger people. They learn very much from it.

  • Rose West profile image

    Rose West 

    8 years ago from Michigan

    Wow, congratulations on 100 hubs! That's quite an accomplishment! I enjoyed this hub, by the way. Volunteering is a good idea for younger people too.

  • elayne001 profile imageAUTHOR

    Elayne 

    8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thanks to all for your comments. I really appreciate them.

    gracenotes did bring up some concerns about qualifying. Some volunteer positions do require much effort to get into I am sure. It depends on how much you want to give up to get in.

    Aloha!

  • Madison22 profile image

    Madison 

    8 years ago from NYC

    elayne, Thank you so much for sharing your insight and bring awareness on such an important topic. Great hub!

  • gracenotes profile image

    gracenotes 

    8 years ago from North Texas

    I admire your work here. Very prolific. Oh, that I could do as well!

    I will second everything the hubbers said here. I am presently doing 2 volunteer jobs that take up about 6 hours per week of my time.

    One other thing -- it is a shame that here in America we have had to build hurdles to get over for many who would volunteer.

    I have been a librarian, and now volunteer at my public library. This required a background check and a drug test before I was able to volunteer.

    I volunteer at my airport, and, naturally, the screening was more extensive. Because I am working on the "secure" side, I had to have an FBI profile, which included fingerprints, before I got my badge. For those no longer young, it can be very difficult to get a good set of prints. Frankly, it was a pain, but I'm past that hurdle now.

    With all the extra work required, I believe that only the most sincere and committed will fill volunteer slots in some places. Maybe this is good!

  • breakfastpop profile image

    breakfastpop 

    8 years ago

    Congratulations and thank you for a very smart piece of writing. Great advice for a healthy and productive life.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 

    8 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Very good hub. I think it is so important to keep our minds active as we age. When you volunteer you always get back more than you give. Congratualtions on 100 hubs.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 

    8 years ago from London, UK

    A very inspiring hub. Thank you.

  • elayne001 profile imageAUTHOR

    Elayne 

    8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thanks LianaK. It has been quite a ride, but I am enjoying it.

    I appreciate your comment cindyvine and I do realize that they still do not totally understand dementia and Alzheimer's.

    So many other factors can contribute to it too.

  • cindyvine profile image

    Cindy Vine 

    8 years ago from Cape Town

    My Granny always used to say that if you keep your mind active, you'll keep Alzheimers at bay. It definitely worked for her as when she died it was her body that gave out not her mind. But then I worked in a dementia care unit and saw many successful businessmen who had kept their minds active, succumb to dementia. If it's meant to happen to you it will.

  • LianaK profile image

    LianaK 

    8 years ago

    Wonderful hub and very important! I love the book about the Nun's that you told me about and how activity and active learning helped to prevent them from getting Alzheimer's and kept their minds active and alert. Congratulations on the 100 hubs! I love it!!!

  • elayne001 profile imageAUTHOR

    Elayne 

    8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thanks Glenn. Hubbing is one way to keep our minds busy, I believe.

    Sorry to hear about your mother Lisa. That must have been hard for you.

  • profile image

    Lisa 

    8 years ago

    What an interesting subject. I just had a conversation yesterday with a woman who is around 65 and she told me that she truly believes dementia or Alzheimer’s happens when people no longer use their minds. My grandmother was a nurse from the age of 18 up until she went back to school and got her masters in psychology. She graduated at the age of 51, she then went on to work as a psychologist for the DSS in Broklyn New York where she retired at the age of 62. She relocated to Charleston SC, moved in to a beautiful home that sat on the lake. Within two years she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. It was as if her mind was so use to keeping busy that the moment it re-tired it started forgetting.

  • Glenn Stok profile image

    Glenn Stok 

    8 years ago from Long Island, NY

    Congratulations on publishing your 100th hub Elayne. This is an important topic for all of us. Any activity keeps our minds from deteriorating as we age.

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