Jan 16, 2017
by Amy Shoemaker
Volunteering With the Elderly: How Your Child Could Benefit From This Experience
Our post about volunteering with the elderly is by Amy Shoemaker, an author who writes about nursing homes and the importance of volunteering. Her website focuses on nursing home abuse and how the general public can stop this phenomenon.
Volunteering is always a great activity your family can do together to become closer, learn, and take on new experiences.
When you get your children interested in volunteering at a young age, they will be able to learn more and they will have the drive to volunteer on their own in the future. Inspiring your child to volunteer will start in your home. If your children see that you are excited about volunteering, they will be more likely to follow your example. As parents, it is our responsibility to get them started so that they will continue to be charitable throughout their lives.
Getting your children involved doesn't have to be difficult. You don't need to go on a month long mission trip to South America to volunteer. Start with a weekly trip to your local nursing home. Your child's smile could make someone's day, and they will learn a lot more during their visits than you could imagine.
Involvement is the key to keeping children interested, and helping the elderly will do just that. Depending on the age of your children and the capabilities of the elderly you visit, there can be a wide variety of activities your family can do when volunteering.
Some of the people you visit may like gardening, but they have difficulty bending over to do some of the tasks gardening requires. By helping them, your children could learn about working hard to reach a goal and healthy eating as well. Maybe your child has just started to learn to read. You could have them read to many people at once, or one person in the nursing home could sit down with them and help them learn. The possibilities are truly endless, and you can use your child's strengths to help them stay interested in the project and improve on their skills in the process.
Your children could especially help those with Alzheimer's and dementia. Combining children and these elderly people will not only benefit the children, but the elderly as well. Research has shown that these elderly people become more interested in others, get more exercise, fall less, and feel happier and more loved after spending time with children. Their loved ones have said that they seem more engaged and less isolated. This same research showed that these children will usually have higher social development scores, fewer behavioral problems, and enhanced perceptions of older adults. Also, children who have been involved in programs with the elderly have been proven to have a better vocabulary as well as better reading skills.
You may think that you won't have time to share these wonderful experiences with your children. When you work long hours or have many other commitments that are keeping you from volunteering, it may seem impossible to take on another task.
However, you need to remember how important your time will be for those you are helping and for your children's future. With just a little bit of your time, you will be able to show your children how important volunteering is to the community, and you will leave each visit feeling more fulfilled.
Volunteering helps create new friendships, and it will also help you feel a purpose in your life. Your children will learn these skills while they are volunteering as well, and the experiences they have will affect the rest of their lives.