Granite VNA News
November 7, 2023
More Keys to Aging Well - Community Engagement
By Lisa Challender, MBA, MSW, Volunteer Coordinator
It has been widely reported that, between the years 2010 and 2020, the number of people age 65 and over in the United States has grown rapidly. In 2020 this group represented almost 17% of the total U.S. population. This increase is expected to continue. The increasing number of people age 65 years and over has sparked conversation as to what it means to age well.
As humans, we are made up of a body, mind, and spirit. To truly age well is to balance these aspects of ourselves. If we focus only on diet and exercise, we will be missing out on so much of the human experience. In unique ways we all long for connection. We have a desire to know that we make a difference in the world. One of the ways we can connect and make a difference is with the gift of our time. By sharing this gift with others, we experience a nurturing of mind and spirit AND body as well!
Did you know that people who volunteer for 200 hours or more a year are less likely to develop high blood pressure and are more likely to enjoy psychological well-being? Volunteering not only reduces stress but also can increase longevity. When we shift our focus to serving others we can experience improved mood and self-esteem.
There are many ways you can engage in your community. Community can be everyone from your family, friends, and neighbors to your town, faith community, and even strangers. Each one of us has the capability to connect with our community. The key is to find the ways that resonate with you and give you joy!
Small, Random Acts of Kindness
The good news is that we can all do this no matter our age! Have you ever been the recipient of a small act of kindness? How did it make you feel? Have you ever performed one for someone else? A simple computer search will yield many ideas to try out. Some popular ideas include - paying the toll for the person behind you, letting someone go in front of you in line at the grocery store when they only have a few items, or leaving rocks decorated with encouraging words for others to find. Be careful - this type of giving can be quite contagious and addictive!
Engaging Across Generations
We live in a fast paced and ever-changing world. It can be easy to forgo opportunities to gather as a community and share stories across generations. One of the gifts of the COVID pandemic may be that many grandparents helped grandchildren with home schooling and other types of care while their parents worked. Younger people checked in on older adults or ran errands so these vulnerable people did not have to go out and be exposed to the virus. These gifts of time allowed for conversations, sharing of wisdom, and an increase in mutual understanding and respect between generations. As we consider how we might age well, let us look for more opportunities to engage inter-generationally.
Being or Helping a Caregiver
As a hospice volunteer coordinator, I witness daily the benefits of caregiver respite. Caregiving is a hard job. It is so important for the caregiver to have a chance to take time away from their caregiving role and re-fill their cup with some self-care.
Get Involved in Community Service
There are so many opportunities to get involved in community service – local and national, in person or remote. Older adults tend to have more time to give and are able to become involved in this type of community engagement. They are able to share their skills, life experiences, or learn new skills. If you are someone who has time to give and not sure where to begin, you can visit volunteermatch.org to view volunteer opportunities in your area.
If we are fortunate – we will continue to age. The question is – what will we do to increase our chances of aging well? Equipped with knowledge of how to nurture our bodies, minds, and spirits we can experience good health, connection, and joy!
At Granite VNA, there are volunteer opportunities for everyone. Volunteers are key members of our team and give back through a variety of roles. If you would like to learn more about our opportunities, please contact: