Volunteering Benefits Seniors More Than You Know
Volunteering Benefits Seniors More Than You Know
Did you know that there are about 18 million older adults giving back in some way today? There are many studies that show when seniors volunteer on a frequent basis, feelings of anxiety, depression, loneliness and social isolation decrease. As the CEO of Sodalis Senior Living, this has helped us create and redefine our company values. From my own personal experiences, I know the priceless benefits of giving back myself.
When I was a child, I remember participating in different church outreach events and service projects with my parents. When I got to high school I began working each summer in a Muscular Dystrophy camp. All through these years and during college, I literally served as the arms and legs of kids who spent their life in a wheelchair.
My days were spent doing things that we take for granted such as dressing, bathing and even the simple act of walking from one room to another. I discovered that, while there were always huge smiles on the faces of the campers, I was the one who left a changed individual. I was left with this incredible, liberating feeling that came from having the opportunity to change these kid’s lives.
Years later, my wife, Shaina and I continue to volunteer for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, as well as the Alzheimer’s Association, Susan G. Komen and local organizations that help the homeless.
It’s Not About Me
As CEO of Sodalis Senior Living, I knew I wanted to provide that feeling of giving back for all my residents at communities we serve. Our primary core value is simply this: “Service – It’s not about me.” It is my desire for Sodalis to become a company that is constantly looking to see who we can serve and how we can give back.
Many of our residents feel the same way and know exactly what I am talking about. So many examples come to mind on how Sodalis residents are passionate, or develop new passions, from volunteering and giving back. It is important for them to be a part of something that benefits more than just themselves.
I remember one resident who is a retired teacher. She recently began tutoring a young student who was the son of one of our community caregivers. Another resident asked to begin using our transportation service so she could be dropped off at the local food bank every week to help those in need. We also recently had a resident who was a war veteran; the most decorated Air Force pilot alive at the time who would host young pilots at our community. He would tell them old stories of his days flying in multiple wars and he was encouraging them to hone their craft as pilots. I’m sure those young men and women took away priceless information and knowledge.
So what does giving back mean to Sodalis residents and to seniors overall?
Being able to give back and serve another person is part of what makes us human. It has always been my personal experience that the person who walks away the most changed and rewarded is generally the person who gave of themselves to help someone else. There is nothing like stepping outside of your own personal struggles and occasional self-pity to help another person who lifts our heart and spirit.
Decreasing Depression for the Most Important Generation
One of the primary maladies for seniors today is depression. Personally, I think this is linked to a feeling that they are no longer useful.
Think about it. They’ve raised their children, finished their careers, then saw their health begin to decline… and then it hits them. They start to wonder if they are still needed by anyone. They look around at photos of past accomplishments and other memorabilia and ask themselves, well, what am I doing now to lead a more fulfilling life? Seniors can easily become focused on their own health concerns and feelings of loneliness, which increases their depression.
I firmly believe that the best remedy for depression and loneliness is going out to serve someone else. That causes each of us to realize that we are still needed, and we still have so much more to offer to our society. Just because we grow older does not mean that we suddenly turn off this need and desire in our life.
The landscape of senior living is rapidly changing as the expectations of seniors continues to shift. When I look at the typical senior living community today, most provide activities that are like a cruise ship. They are all focused on things like bingo, arts and crafts and watching movies. While all that is well and good, I believe that just because a person gets older, their desire to be needed and useful does not diminish.
So, I thought about Sodalis as a company and what we could do to benefit the seniors we serve.
If Sodalis can begin to find ways for our residents to begin serving others on a regular basis, I believe that it can be life-changing for everyone involved. My team at Sodalis wants our residents and their families to know that we are not just interested in our own business or how many new residents can be sent our way. It’s about how we can reach out and make a difference in their lives as well. And how our volunteerism can go beyond our own residents and family members, and also extend to our various communities.
Thus began our Random Acts of Kindness events throughout all Sodalis communities in June 2018. This idea of giving back to local organizations like shelters, food pantries and other organizations that needed our help each month has spread like wildfire to all our Sodalis communities.
My desire is to create memorable experiences and opportunities for our residents to use their gifts and talents that will not just serve to entertain, but to impact the lives of others. In my opinion, I think this will be one of the things that sets our communities apart in the days to come.
Until next time.
– Shawn Corzine
CEO of Sodalis Senior Living