The Joy of Giving Back
By Pamela D. Wilson, CSA, MS, BS/BA, CG
How many of us work, work, work with little free time or we work and have no interests that really inspire our hearts. If you could make a significant difference in the life of an older adult by giving one or two hours a week of your time, would this interest you?
There are many older adults living the remainder of their lives in nursing homes who have no family or friends who visit. Their days are filled with lying in bed and watching television. The routine of the nursing home, waking, eating, resting, eating, going to bed can be monotonous. Many of these individuals are on public assistance called Medicaid, meaning that all of their income, except for $50 per month, is paid to the nursing home for their care. They have no means to leave to purchase personal items, a book or clothing. The nursing home, in a sense, has become their captor.
Most nursing homes have volunteer or social service coordinators who would be overjoyed to be approached by an individual willing to volunteer time to be a “friendly visitor”. Imagine the example one could set for children by adopting a man or woman who has no one and showing children not only the value of volunteering but the value our aging adults hold by way of their life stories.
The adult in the nursing home gains a new friend or family to visit and I promise you the joy you will receive back is immeasurable. Think of all the activities that could be done especially reminiscing about the individual’s early life and history. For children, real stories are better than anything read in history books. The relationship can also be educational with children having the ability to read aloud to the older adult or actually receive help learning to read. There are so many opportunities and activities that can be done only limited by one’s imagination.
Imagine the possibility of a school adopting an entire nursing home and over many years have students visit older adults as an intergenerational project with various goals and learning opportunities. This may inspire some students to choose careers in the health care field.
While employment offers daily routine and allows many of us to pay our bills, the joy of establishing relationships and giving back to the community is a good balance even if for only an hour or two a week. Give consideration to ways you, your employer, your school and other organizations might support the elderly in our communities who truly have no one. You can make a difference.
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