My 81-year-old client Ed lived by himself and was in reasonably good health for his age, but since his wife had died a year earlier, he had become something of a recluse. During a recent visit, he sighed when I asked him how he was feeling.
“I’m okay, I guess. I had a doctor’s appointment and he says my blood pressure is better,” he said. “I also got my COVID booster shot, but I haven’t done much else. I’m getting tired and bored being home all the time, to be honest. My wife always made the social plans.”
“Let’s talk about that,” I said. “You and your wife used to volunteer at the soup kitchen too, didn’t you?”
“Yeah, but I don’t think I can manage that anymore. Plus, I don’t want to do it without her.” He paused.
“Maybe there’s something else I can do?”
I was glad to hear that Ed was ready to consider other options. One of the best ways for people of any age to battle loneliness and boredom is to do good for others and the community. Volunteering for a cause you believe in is beneficial for your mental and physical health and can boost your self-esteem, give you a sense of purpose and identity, and reduce stress and anxiety.
“The local senior center might be a good place to start,” I suggested. “And the Area Agency on Aging always has listings for volunteers as well as other nonprofits. For example, you can volunteer to visit with someone who’s homebound, either in person or by phone. With the holidays coming up, you can volunteer to help staff with community events. You can even volunteer to teach a class to seniors.” Ed had been an art teacher before he retired.
The fact is, there are many volunteer opportunities available for seniors to help other seniors. Ed and I made some phone calls, and he signed up at his local senior center to visit with homebound veterans. All it took was filling out an application and background check then he attended a brief volunteer orientation, where Ed met other seniors who also wanted to help.
“I feel like I have a reason to get up in the morning, now,” Ed said. “It’s done me more good than I thought!”
If you or someone in your family are facing aging challenges, please give us a call at 877-337-0922 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org”. We’ll be happy to assist!