Info For Seniors: Volunteering can improve health, well-being

The Public Health Agency of Canada states that there are health benefits that can be gained by volunteering.

Volunteer work improves the well-being of individual volunteers primarily, but not exclusively, by enhancing social support networks. Support from family and friends acts as a buffer against stress and illness.

People with increased social contacts and stronger support networks have lower premature death rates, less heart disease, and fewer health risk factors. Some experts have concluded that the health benefits of social relationships may be as important as health risks such as smoking, physical inactivity, and high blood pressure. Social network size is consistently related to health and well-being. Social networks provide both emotional benefits and actual assistance in time of need. An individual’s perception or awareness of the availability of support, regardless of the presence of a stressful circumstance, is health-enhancing.

Volunteering helps individuals form interpersonal ties and develop their social networks. Social support is a key reason for the link between volunteering, life satisfaction and health outcomes. While it is difficult to know whether healthy people are more likely to volunteer or whether volunteering provides health benefits, poor health was indicated as a barrier to volunteering by only 22 per cent of Canadian non-volunteers surveyed in the National Survey on Giving, Volunteering and Participating (NGSVP). Social participation may not only enhance the support available to individuals, but may also promote health by positively affecting thoughts, emotions and behaviour. Beyond the benefits of social ties gained from volunteer behaviour, research suggests a separate and distinct benefit of formal affiliation with community-oriented organizations. You can access more information at www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

If you’re ready to take the step of becoming a volunteer, or if you’ve always been a volunteer and you have a couple extra hours to give, please call Community Care. Join the many volunteers involved in helping seniors live at home. We must always recruit more, however, as current volunteers are aging, travelling, or changing their focus to other activities.

Community Care has openings in the following positions: thrift shop (three hours per week); transportation program driver (three hours per week); Seniors Luncheon Social helper, note that there is no cooking involved with this (two hours per month); visiting shut-in seniors (one hour per week); and Meals on Wheels driver (one to two hours per day, frequency negotiable); County Seniors Centre volunteer (four-to-six hours per month). Call our office at 613-476-7493 or stop in for more information. We’re happy to talk to you about how you can contribute and about how you can benefit from volunteering.

For a full schedule of upcoming County Seniors Centre activities and events call the office, check our Facebook page, or go to the web site at www.communitycareforseniors.org It you become a member of the County Seniors Centre you will receive regular updates on programming by email or by phone if you don’t use e-mail. Join today!

– Debbie MacDonald Moynes