Evidence attesting to the profound payoffs of volunteering continues to mount. In fact, when it comes to positive aging and enhanced well-being, there may be no better way for seniors to set themselves up for success than by spending time helping other people. At Deupree House and Deupree Cottages, we’re committed to supporting our community members as they strive to lead more engaged and fulfilling lives. One way we do this? By facilitating plenty of volunteering opportunities.
Here’s a closer look at the extraordinary benefits of volunteering, along with a few examples of the volunteer work we’re doing at Deupree Cottages.
Good for the Mind, Body, and Soul
Anyone who’s ever done a selfless act for someone else knows how good it feels. As it turns out, however, the rewards of volunteering are more tangible than mere feelings. In fact, helping others has a multitude of proven benefits—starting with mental health. Studies have consistently shown that people who donate their time feel more connected to the world around them. This feeling of connectedness can ward off loneliness, isolation, and depression.
But the benefits of volunteering also go beyond mental health. Contends Harvard Women’s Health Watch Executive Editor Stephanie Watson, “A growing body of evidence suggests that people who give their time to others might also be rewarded with better physical health—including lower blood pressure and a longer lifespan.”
Watson specifically points to a recent study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University which appeared in the academic journal Psychology and Aging. The researchers found that not only was volunteering associated with increased psychological well-being in adults over the age of 50, but older volunteers were also less likely than their non-volunteering peers to develop high blood pressure, an important indicator of health due to its link with heart disease, stroke, and premature death.
And while Watson points out that it’s hard to conclusively prove that volunteering directly causes these healthy outcomes, science consistently points in this direction.
Which begs the question: How does volunteering positively impact blood pressure? For starters, it can lead to increased physical activity among otherwise inactive people. And we all know that moving the body is a health and wellness imperative. But that’s not all. Says the study’s lead author Rodlescia Sneed, a doctoral candidate in social and health psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, “Many people find volunteer work to be helpful with respect to stress reduction, and we know that stress is very strongly linked to health outcomes,” she says.
Wondering what kind of volunteering activities are most beneficial for your health, meanwhile? The jury is out on that question. Sneed does say that mentally stimulating volunteer work like reading and tutoring may boost cognitive function, while more physical activities promote cardiovascular health. However older adults choose to volunteer, the psychological benefits of doing so are universal.
Volunteering at Deupree Cottages
Deupree Cottages has recently participated in several different volunteering initiatives, including a favorite activity: preparing goodie bags for a number of organizations, including Ronald McDonald House, Camp SWONEKY, Fisher House, City Gospel Mission, and John Parker Elementary School. Sitting around two tables, residents are each tasked with adding an item to each bag. “All that participate in preparing the bags are excited to be helping and to give to those that could use some extra love from them! I always tell them we are sharing the love to other families,” says Deupree Cottage’s household coordinator, DD Farmer.
Earlier this year, the Cottages assembled care packages for the Dragonfly Foundation, which helps pediatric cancer and bone marrow transplant patients and their families.
In October 2019, the Cottage residents gathered to assemble bags of personal care items for local seniors who visit a food pantry to get food and other supplies for daily living. The Cottages residents enjoy organizing donated items for the local food pantry into "gift bags." It makes it easier for the seniors at the pantry to get the personal items they need.
These good deeds don’t go unnoticed by residents and their families. In 2018, we earned the second-highest overall family satisfaction score in the annual Ohio Nursing Home Family Satisfaction Survey for our person-centered approach to care.
One last thing to keep in mind about volunteering for seniors: to derive the most benefits, it’s not enough merely to put in the work. According to a 2012 study published in the journal Health Psychology, only people with truly altruistic intentions are positioned for the most profound personal takeaways. “In other words, they had to be volunteering to help others—not to make themselves feel better,” continues Watson.
At Deupree Cottages, we’re proud to say that all of our volunteers are truly engaged in the act of doing good, and are therefore leveraging their service into amazing results—both for others and for themselves. We’re also always eager for new members to join our vibrant and active community. To learn more about premier senior living at Ohio's Deupree House, request more information today.