They say that in life, you only get what you give — and this is certainly the case when it comes to volunteering in aged care.
There’s no doubt that by generously donating their time and skills, our volunteers make our residents lives a little brighter. But what many volunteers don’t anticipate is just how much the experience will enrich their own lives, too. In fact, volunteering is often just as beneficial to our volunteers as it is our residents!
From your health and happiness to your career and social life, becoming an aged care volunteer can positively impact nearly every aspect of your life. Here are some of the top benefits of volunteering.
Give back to the community
Becoming an aged care volunteer is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. Just by spending time with our residents, you can help fill their lives with joy and positivity. However, the benefits of helping others go both ways. Volunteering can help give your life a strong sense of purpose and meaning that other forms of work may not.
This is particularly helpful for volunteers who are retired from the workplace, and find themselves with more time on their hands. It can give them an excellent reason to leap out of bed in the morning, eager to make a difference in our resident’s lives.
Volunteering is also great for young people. Connecting with someone from another generation gives you a whole new perspective about life and an appreciation for those who have come before you.
Broaden your perspective
It’s easy to get wrapped in the day-to-day hustle and bustles and all the issues that come with modern life. Volunteering is the perfect opportunity to break up your daily routine and expand your horizons.
Coming from all different walks of life, our residents have lived through diverse experiences and many different stages of history. In working with them, you’ll often get to hear their extraordinary stories. Some of them have experienced great challenges and adversity throughout their lifetimes, too.
It’s a great way to get a reality check, and remind yourself that there’s more to life than emails and social media.
Make new friends
Volunteering in aged care allows you to strike up friendships with people who you may not otherwise ever get the opportunity to meet. Firstly, you will get to know our lovely residents, who have plenty of love and wisdom to share.
You’ll also to get to know the other volunteers. This is an excellent way to broaden your social circle, which can be difficult to do as an adult. If you are recently retired or an empty nester, this is a great way to quell some of the feelings of loneliness that can come with this big transition.
Improve your health
There are multiple studies that show volunteering can alleviate stress and boost your mood. There’s a couple of different reasons why this is the case. Firstly, research shows that oxytocin (a neurotransmitter that regulates social interaction) spikes in some people who regularly volunteer, helping them to better manage stress. Scientists also believe that volunteering can also take the focus off your worries for a while, which reduces feelings of stress.
You don’t have to give up all of your time to reap the benefits, either. In a report from Volunteering Australia, 95% of participants said that volunteering improved their personal wellbeing — and that even just a few hours made a difference to their happiness and mood.
The benefits of volunteering go beyond just your mental health. In another survey, volunteers reported a range of health benefits after participating in a casual volunteer role over 12 months. The volunteers experienced an 11% increase in social wellbeing, a 9% increase in physical health, a 7% increase in life satisfaction and a 4% decrease in depression.
Learn new skills
There are many valuable skills gained from volunteering with people living with dementia that can be applied to your work, family life and other relationships. One of these is communication. As there can be some barriers in conversing, our volunteers often to find creative ways to communicate with residents. Other important skills you’ll gain or further develop from volunteering include patience, problem-solving, working well in a group, organisation and empathy.
Boost your resume
While we don’t recommend volunteering in aged care simply because it looks good on a resume, it’s certainly an added bonus. Due to the many skills that are gained from volunteer work, it’s often looked upon favourably by prospective employers. Research from SEEK shows that 92% of employers say that relevant volunteer experience gives candidates an advantage in job interviews. This may be partly because it shows you have strong core values that can be difficult to convey in a job interview setting, such as selflessness and a willingness to roll up your sleeves and help.
Volunteering in aged care can also be helpful for bridging the gap if you are returning to workforce after an extended break. It can help refresh your skills and get you ready to attend job interviews again.
Whether you’re a good listener, are great at arts and crafts or a talented guitar player, your unique skills and personality could make an immense difference in the lives of our residents. In doing so, you’ll reap the benefits, too. To learn more about how you can get involved, head to our volunteering page.