Donating your time to make someone else’s life better is a rewarding experience. Read here to learn why you should volunteer at a nursing home.
If the last time you volunteered was for an assignment in high school or with your college fraternity or sorority, it’s time you gave it another try.
Volunteering at a nursing home is beneficial to both the volunteer and the residents of the nursing home.
If you’re on the fence about whether you should volunteer at a nursing home, keep reading.
We’re breaking down why you should volunteer, what you’ll be doing, and how you’ll be helping nursing home residents.
Why You Should Volunteer at a Nursing Home
Volunteering isn’t just beneficial for the people or organizations that you volunteer for. You’ll enjoy plenty of benefits as well.
You’ll have a sense of pride and satisfaction in knowing you helped someone. You’ll boost your problem-solving skills and build meaningful connections with others. Some research even suggests that you’ll enjoy health benefits as well.
Why Nursing Homes Need Volunteers
While you’ll enjoy plenty of benefits regardless of where you choose to spend your time volunteering, nursing homes can be particularly rewarding.
Because nursing homes receive funding from the government and many of the people in the homes pay to be there, they are often overlooked. But while the people in nursing homes may have a roof over their heads and food, they still need additional care that they may not get without the help of volunteers.
Nursing homes are often understaffed. With so many residents and so few staff members, each individual may not get the attention or company they need.
If a resident doesn’t have family or if their family doesn’t visit often, they may face many long hours spent alone.
What You’ll Do While Volunteering at Nursing Homes
You don’t need a medical background or experience in senior care in order to volunteer in a nursing home.
In fact, becoming a volunteer at retirement homes is one of the easiest volunteer positions you can take part in.
That’s because most of what you will do is simply keeping the residents of the nursing home company.
This might mean playing games with them to help them stay active. Depending on the nursing home and your position as a volunteer, you may accompany them on outings to stores, parks, or other locations.
Sometimes volunteering in a nursing home is as simple as sitting with lonely residents and talking to them.
Older people often have plenty of stories and advice that they are eager to pass on to others.
Just listening to them and taking an interest in what they have to say can make all the difference in boosting their mood and keeping them healthy and happy.
Sometimes a volunteer at a nursing home will also have other responsibilities. You might help with laundry or cleaning, take residents to doctors appointments, or perform other duties. If you are experienced enough, you may even get to help train other volunteers.
Many nursing homes are grateful to have volunteers and may give you some freedom to decide what you want to do. Don’t worry about being forced to do something that you’re not comfortable with. The last thing a nursing home will want to do is put you a position that affects its residents that you don’t feel confident in.
The Darker Side of How Volunteers Can Help
Nursing home abuse is a serious problem. Experts estimate that between 1 and 2 million Americans over the age of 65 have been the victims of some form of abuse.
Sometimes abuse occurs because the staff is abusing their privileges. Other times it’s because a nursing home is just too understaffed to be able to properly care for its residents and individuals end up hurt as a result.
Nursing home abuse ranges from malnourishment to physical or mental abuse and everything in between.
As a volunteer, you will build relationships with residents. This means you’ll notice changes in their behavior, which could alert you to possible abuse. If you spend enough time as a volunteer at a senior home, you may even witness abuse yourself.
If you do experience abuse while volunteering at a nursing home, you should go to the management of that facility first. But if the abuse is widespread in the facility, even that may not be enough.
You should also talk with the abused residents’ family, if they have any, and suggest that they remove their loved one from the home. They should then find an attorney to start legal action against the person responsible for the abuse.
One of the reasons why nursing home abuse remains such a serious problem is because in many cases it goes unreported. Seeking legal action can help spur changes to prevent others from being abused.
Other Ways You Can Help
If you don’t have the time to volunteer regularly in a nursing home, there are plenty of other ways that you can get involved.
Sending holiday cards to nursing homes is one great option. You could also volunteer to lead seasonal events, such as caroling, to help brighten up the holidays for nursing home residents.
Organizing visits to nursing homes for children is another great way to get involved. This not only benefits the residents of the nursing home, who get the entertainment of interacting with children, but it also benefits those children. They will learn to respect older generations and learn that volunteering in their communities is important.
Helping Your Community
Becoming a volunteer at a nursing home is a great way to get involved in your community. But it’s far from the only way.
Another serious problem in many communities across the country is the opioid crisis. With nearly a hundred people dying every day from overdoses, it’s becoming an overwhelming issue that law enforcement and city officials are struggling to overcome on their own.
If you want to do your part to put an end to the opioid crisis, there are a number of ways that your community can come together to make a difference. Check out this article next to learn more.