With years of experience and a willingness to make a difference in their communities, more older adults are volunteering to serve their peers in need. By doing so, they are staying active, meeting new people and learning new skills — all factors that contribute to health and longevity. But most importantly, they are making a difference in the lives of others.Volunteers Making a Difference in the Lives of Older Adults, a new report from the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), highlights five volunteer programs that are changing lives.These programs demonstrate how local Area Agencies on Aging across the country are innovating to meet critical needs and offer local seniors meaningful volunteer opportunities.”My volunteer work has given me the opportunity to meet with some very inspirational people, whom I otherwise would have never been able to meet because they are homebound,” says one volunteer.The five volunteers highlighted in the n4a report represent thousands of older adult volunteers across the country who give their time and talents to ensure that other, older Americans live with dignity and choices in homes and communities for as long as possible. They may inspire you to volunteer your time and talents.In Atlanta, trained volunteers teach health and wellness classes to their peers. The classes cover topics such as fitness, healthy sexuality, disaster preparedness and issues related to mental health. Program staff members report that most of their volunteer community educators are in their mid-60s with the most dedicated volunteers in their 70s and 80s.Veterans in Maine are volunteering to visit other veterans who are often isolated in rural communities. They swap stories and provide companionship. The volunteers also link their fellow veterans to social services and programs that address unmet needs.”As Vets age, they seem to be forgotten. The need is huge for volunteer veterans to visit and share life stories with other veterans,” says the program’s director.Other senior volunteers across the country are staying active in their communities by making weekly phone calls to homebound seniors, helping seniors navigate public transportation, providing rides to medical appointments, and educating seniors about Medicare, among many other critical tasks.There is a role for everyone!For more information about how you can volunteer, contact your local Area Agency on Aging or the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116. For a copy of the five case studies, visit www.n4a.org and find “Volunteer Resource Center” under n4a Initiatives.
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