You know that your brain is a complex system of wiring – but did you know that human connections are key to keeping that that wiring intact?
A recent study at Indiana University found that volunteering may be instrumental in staving off dementia. The 12-year study looked at more than 64,000 adults 60 and older who participated in the University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study. The research found that older adults who volunteered two hours a week scored higher in cognitive testing than non-volunteers, even when controlling for other factors such as depression and health.
At ElderServe, we’ve seen firsthand how isolation can adversely affect the health of older adults, and we’re committed to battling loneliness among seniors. Our volunteers, young and old, play a vital role – helping themselves while they help others.
The healthcare community has bought in, too. The Humana Foundation is a major funder of our TeleCare and Friendly Visitor programs, and one University of Louisville doctor has referred dementia patients to our Friendly Visitor program.
If you’re interested in volunteering, we have programs with varying levels of commitment:
Active Choices: If you have an interest in fitness, you’ll love this rapidly growing program. Our Wellness coordinator develops custom plans for homebound or home-limited seniors to help them get active. Trained volunteers then provide follow-up coaching and encouragement via phone about twice a month to one or more participants. The outcomes for this program have been phenomenal. One participant went from using a wheelchair to a walker after an illness; others have gone on to form walking groups with neighbors.
TeleCare: All you need is a phone and a few minutes each weekday. Volunteers call isolated seniors Monday through Friday to check in and see how they are doing. You’d be amazed at how one phone call can brighten an older adult’s day. But don’t take our word for it. Here’s what one TeleCare recipient had to say: “They have been wonderful! It was important that someone in this world still cared about their neighbor, to know that you are not forgotten.”
Friendly Visitor: If you prefer in-person contact, then Friendly Visitor is for you. We match older adults with volunteers based on common interests, and asks them to visit twice a month. Only volunteers who are comfortable working with dementia sufferers are assigned to those participants – and only with proper guidance and a connection with the participant’s family. Currently, about 30 seniors are waiting on a Friendly Visitor.
Please join us in connecting with others. Your brain depends on it.