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How community service contributes to a healthy lifestyle for seniors

February 4, 2014

Individuals who reside in independent living centers or local retirement communities have the unique opportunity to donate their time to help those in need. Senior volunteers have grown in number over the past decade, with more older adults setting aside chunks of their time to give back to their community. As volunteer programs specifically catered toward connecting the elderly with proper community service opportunities continue to sprout, seniors who are looking to spend their time by aiding individuals or companies are in luck. 

Seniors who have spent their time volunteering have reported that giving back makes them feel better, whether they're planting a community garden for a local hospital or assisting schoolchildren in after-school care. 

County draws more than 400 senior volunteers
In Pottsville, Pa., one small county celebrated the 30th anniversary of their Retired Senior Volunteer Program this year. The initiative matches volunteers over the age of 55 with communities throughout the county that have specific needs. Last year, RSVP recruited more than 430 members who donated almost 44,000 hours to the community, according to the Republican Herald. Seniors were able to work with nonprofits, nursing homes, libraries, animal shelters, schools, hospitals and food banks. Sylvia Yonalunas, an 88-year-old woman who has been a part of the organization since 1989, told the local news source that she enjoys giving back her time, particularly because of the connections she makes with people she has worked with.

"I enjoy helping people and if I have the time I don't mind doing it," Yonalunas said. "I enjoy being with people and helping them. As long as I am able to do it I will continue doing it."

The organization hopes to recruit more helpers throughout the year.

Indiana senior volunteers as caregiver
Warren Manchess is a 74-year-old man who volunteers three times a week as a caregiver for a 92-year-old man with Alzheimer's. Manchess, who began taking care of the elderly after his own mother was diagnosed with the disease, takes care of feeding the man, doing his laundry, reading to him, playing games or watching TV with him when requested. Manchess told the Miami Herald that he appreciates the time he spends giving back, adding that his age has given him a unique advantage when caring for other seniors. He said that the time he has spent working as a professional caregiver has been more beneficial than time he spent in other professions, including real estate and driving a school bus.

"I think this is about as rewarding, if not more rewarding, than any of them," he told the local news source.