Thursday, January 12, 2012


Following article spotted b our friend VRV RAghavendran makes useful reading. It shows how senior citizens volunteer and give back to society what society gave them. Benefits of volunteering, sources to locate opportunities, removalof mis-conception about old people behaviour are all dealt with. Productive ageing is implicitely advocated. Read on ..



'Old people behavior'

Posted: January 11, 2012 - 4:20pm

My kids accuse me of it. I don't get it, but that's part of the problem. Not getting things done as quickly as I used to and not caring that I haven't. Thinking little things are funnier than they really are. Forgetting what I was doing, where I was going and why. Thinking doing one thing well is better than multi-tasking. Starting to think about my pillow as early as 7 p.m. Dressing my age. Texting the wrong words. Not wanting to buy things on the internet. Not checking my email often enough. I'm not sure why these things are concerning them, but when they observe it, they do look at each other, grin, and say "old people behavior."

I think that's one reason I love the job I'm in. If I express any concerns to any of my clients about this, they just say "Oh, honey, don't worry. You're young yet! You have nothing to worry about. It gets worse." Comforting.

I don't make New Year's resolutions, and therefore I don't break them. However, this year I'm going try to really appreciate my age — embrace "old people behavior" and enjoy it! One of my favorite writings by Erma Bombeck titled "If I Had My Life To Live Over" encourages us to the things we always thought we shouldn't, like eating popcorn in the 'good' living room. She says to slow down and appreciate things a lot more, and to laugh at life instead of TV. The answers to my kids, seeing the humor in things sometimes takes some of the worry away. There is no reason to do more than one thing at a time, and going to bed early is very healthy! I say, they are lucky I'm texting at all, because I really prefer to talk to them, but I'm agreeing to deal with text and email in order to compromise. If I ordered all their presents on the internet, I'd never enjoy the Christmas music in the stores or run into friends to chat with while I'm shopping. I'm ready to say, I don't see what's wrong with "old people behavior!"

Here's some more evidence for my cause. You'll likely find them around every corner: Older people who volunteer and make a difference in our community each day. Maybe it's through local churches, community organizations, neighborhoods, senior centers or health care organizations. Wherever these unsung heroes are working their magic, they are needed as local budgets evaporate and community needs escalate.

Helping others defines life for many of our retired seniors. Here are some interesting statistics.

• More than half of seniors volunteer their time through unpaid community service.

• Twenty percent of senior volunteers surveyed started volunteering when they reached the traditional age of retirement of 65 or older.

• Twenty percent of seniors who volunteer say that their community service is the most important thing they do.

• Seniors who volunteer give an average of 15 hours a month in unpaid service.

• Seven in 10 seniors who volunteer indicate they plan on volunteering forever. This percentage is slightly higher for senior volunteers who suffer from chronic health problems.

Examples of senior volunteer are everywhere, if you look closely. There's Ernest whose hospice volunteering helped fill a void after his wife died. And Pauline, who says volunteering helps her manage fibromyalgia neck and back pain. There's the lady at the front desk of the senior center, making sure people get to the right activities, and all those folks making the doughnuts that are sold to help the senior center financially. The person at the front desk at the hospital, so kindly directing us to the right spots and the gentleman helping people get to their cars safely are invaluable. The local nursing homes have energetic seniors calling bingo, entertaining with music, and spending time visiting one on one.

As much as they give to others, what a difference we have observed in seniors' health, attitude and outlook among those who choose to stay active as they age. In fact, managing chronic conditions and maintaining health are important motivations. Three-fourths of senior volunteers surveyed who have chronic conditions say that staying active through volunteering helps them manage these conditions.

The benefits really do run deep. Senior volunteering is a venue for developing important social connections, said Erwin Tan, director of Senior Corps, a national organization that links more than 400,000 Americans 55 and older to service opportunities.

"In addition, it's a great way for seniors to learn new things, whether a skill or just something about an issue in which they have an interest."

Tan, who serves as the expert U.S. source for the Salute to Senior Service program, said he hears constantly from the seniors in his programs that volunteering gives them a purpose in life. "They say that it's the reason they get up in the morning," he said. According to Tan, volunteering is a great way to expand horizons for seniors and help them feel as if they are still a valuable part of the community.

The research tells the many ways that volunteerism helps. The following are benefits those 65 and older who volunteer have reported.

1. Strengthened mission – 99 percent want to make a difference.

2. Improved physical health – 98 percent stay active and feel better physically.

3. Stronger emotional foundation – 98 percent feel better emotionally

4. Renewed spiritual purpose – 98 percent gain a sense of purpose.

5. Shared wisdom – 90 percent want to share their talents, skills and experience.

6. Refreshed perspective and mental acuity – 84 percent want to occupy their free time.

7. Effective pain remedy – 75 percent with chronic conditions say volunteering helps them manage these conditions.

8. Invigorated social networks – 74 percent are able to overcome feeling isolated.

9. Better mental outlook – 70 percent are able to overcome feeling depressed.

10. Long-lasting legacies – 53 percent say that they learned the importance of volunteering from their parents' community service and 84 percent say they have encouraged their children to give back to their communities.

Now that's "Old People Behavior! " Thanks so much to all those seniors in our community who are active and giving back and gaining benefits for themselves. Now there's my New Year's Resolution! Bring it on! I will be honored and know that really, I'm not quite live up to the definition of "old people behavior." I need to act more like the seniors in our community!

[There are so many opportunities to volunteer in our community. A few contacts include Mike Koechler at RSVP, DeAnn Barry at Lakes Area Senior Activity Center, Liz Csanda at Good Samaritan-Bethany, Deb Anderson at St. Joseph Medical Center, or check the Volunteer Section of the Brainerd Dispatch that runs the first Sunday of the month]

DEB CRANNY is the executive director at Home Instead Senior Care in Brainerd.


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