Senior volunteers are making a difference each day in local churches, community organizations, neighborhoods, senior centers and health care organizations. In total, these unsung heroes are making a bigger impact than ever as local budgets evaporate and community needs escalate. For many of these seniors, helping others defines who they are in their retirement years.
In response, Home Instead Senior Care has announced the launch of Salute to Senior Service(SM) program (www.SalutetoSeniorService.com) to honour the many volunteer contributions that older adults make to this nation. This program, which launched on January 15, 2012, includes a search for the country’s most outstanding Senior Hero(SM) in each state and culminates with the selection of a national Salute to Senior Service winner during Older Americans Month in May. State Senior Hero(SM) winners will receive plaques and their stories on the http://www.SalutetoSeniorService.com site. In addition, $5,000 will be donated to the national winner’s nonprofit charity of choice.
Between January 15 and March 12, 2012, entries can be submitted to nominate seniors 65 and older who volunteer at least 15 hours a month, making a positive impact on their communities through volunteerism. Stories can be submitted online at www.SalutetoSeniorService.com.
“Not only are senior volunteers changing their communities, but they are also changing the face of aging,” said Jeff Huber, President and Chief Operating Officer of Home Instead Senior Care. “Volunteer opportunities for older adults should not diminish because of age and, by all accounts, don’t. Home Instead is thrilled to be able to take this opportunity to recognize and showcase their important contributions.”
About half of U.S. seniors (52 percent) volunteer their time through unpaid community service, according to research conducted by the Home Instead Senior Care network. Nearly 20 percent (one in five) of senior volunteers surveyed started volunteering when they reached the traditional age of retirement – 65 or older. Furthermore, 20 percent of seniors who volunteer say that their community service is the most important thing they do. Seniors who volunteer give an average of 15 hours a month in unpaid service.
Seven in 10 seniors (70 percent) who volunteer indicate they plan on volunteering “forever.” This percentage is slightly higher for senior volunteers who suffer from chronic health problems. In fact, managing chronic conditions and maintaining health are important motivations. Three-fourths of senior volunteers surveyed (75 percent) who have chronic conditions say that staying active through volunteering helps them manage these conditions. But the benefits go much deeper. According to Home Instead Senior Care network research, 95 percent of senior volunteers feel that seniors who volunteer are healthier and happier than seniors who do not. Volunteering enables seniors to develop and maintain important social connections, learn more skills, and pursue new interests.
“We know from our work with seniors that the more active an individual the more likely that he or she will continue to remain independent while aging. Those who find a way to give back, even if they have their own aches and pains and need help, realize many benefits,” shared Huber.
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