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Celebrating Volunteerism

April 23-29, 2017 is National Healthcare Volunteer Week. President Richard Nixon established National Volunteer Week with an executive order in 1974 as a way to recognize and celebrate the efforts of volunteers. Every sitting U.S. president since Nixon has issued a proclamation during National Volunteer Week (as have many U.S. mayors and governors). Since then, the original emphasis on celebration has widened; the week has become a nationwide effort to urge people to get out and volunteer in their communities. Every April, charities, hospitals, and communities recognize volunteers and foster a culture of service. Source: www.ahvrp.org.

The Power of Volunteerism

IMG_0894Volunteering is such a pure and selfless act, and all generations can benefit from it. For older adults especially, volunteerism provides purpose and meaning and is a great form of enrichment and social engagement. Its value is two-fold: while helping others, you can simultaneously improve your own physical, mental, and social well-being. Multiple studies reveal that retirement-age individuals who volunteer find it easier to stave off depression, isolation and boredom. Plus, time and time again you hear volunteers say, “I thought I was doing something helpful for someone else, but I feel just as rewarded by helping others.”

For Messiah Lifeways, volunteerism is a quintessential part of our mission and heritage. There are nearly 460 active volunteers ranging from ages 13 to 98! The average age of our volunteers is 73 years young, which emphasizes the significance and value of volunteering no matter what your age.

Lois Hutchison, Director of Volunteers at Messiah Lifeways, states, “Older volunteers in particular want to give back by helping others. They have a great appreciation for volunteerism and enjoy staying actively engaged by making a difference in the lives of others.” She also added that “many family members come back to the Village to volunteer, even though their loved one has passed away. They feel a connection and want to give back to the place that meant so much to their parent or spouse.”

Many volunteers live at Messiah Village and are eager to help in any way. Aside from traditional duties like passing water pitchers, volunteers at Messiah Village can do out-of-the-ordinary tasks, such as driving the campus shuttle or helping to run the gift shops or coffee shops. Others help by showcasing their talents playing a musical instrument or by bringing their furry friends in for pet therapy.

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Each year we celebrate and count our blessings for the enormous volunteer effort put forth by so many. To celebrate this year, volunteers have been showered with love and appreciation with different treats like the “mint” giveaways (pictured above) along with a week-long Volunteer Appreciation Open House where each volunteer gets one-on-one time to connect with the Volunteer Department.

The Economic Value of Volunteerism

In a recent 2016 study from IndependentSector.org the national value of volunteer time was calculated at $24.14 per hour. The estimate helps acknowledge the millions of individuals who dedicate their time, talents, and energy to making a difference. Charitable organizations can use this estimate to quantify the enormous value volunteers provide. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, about 63 million Americans gave 8 billion hours of volunteer service worth $193 billion. For the latest information, please see VolunteeringInAmerica.gov.

To find out more about volunteer opportunities and how you can make a difference at Messiah Lifeways, call Lois Hutchison at 717.790.8203 or visit MessiahLifeways.org/Volunteers.

Crush those Winter Blues

The hub-bub and excitement of the holidays has passed and now we have to tough it out for the longer and colder part of winter. For some this winter malaise can spawn depression and isolation. It can be a challenging season for both seniors as well as caregivers. Others may suffer from “Seasonal Affective Disorder” or SAD. For people dealing with SAD, the lack of natural sunlight in the winter upsets the sleep-wake cycle and their circadian rhythms. It may also affect the balance of chemicals like serotonin and hormones such as melatonin in the brain, which can alter one’s mood. Whether someone truly suffers from SAD or just has an annual winter blues, these colder darker days can take its toll. Combine that with flu season and other cold weather ailments and it’s understandable why many flock to places like Florida and Arizona during the winter. But for many, that just isn’t an option. Plus, for caregivers who likely are still working or are being relied upon by their loved one, the best they could hope for is maybe a week’s vacation away from it all. So whether you’re a senior or an aging caregiver, consider these tips that can help you beat those wintertime blues, many of which are offered by Messiah Lifeways.

Exercise

Water Volleyball for SeniorsWe know that exercise and activity are important year-round, but we also know it be challenging, especially during the winter. So, if you can’t go for a walk or exercise outdoors because of the snow and cold, then its time to start your regular indoor exercise routine. Fortunately, Messiah Lifeways Wellness offers both residents and others age 55+, living in the community, many opportunities to stay active and stave off the winter blues! Messiah Lifeways Wellness Coordinator, Heidi Koch, and her team offer up a variety of winter exercise classes and programs that are open to residents, community members, and even SilverSneakers  and Silver & Fit participants. You can choose from options like Yoga, Tia Chi, Pilates, strength training, cardio, balance, nutrition, healthy cooking and aquatic classes. The warm water aquatic center boasts a comfy 90 degree pool and a spa to de-stress and relax! They can also provide fitness testing, wellness assessments, and personal training which are important facets to developing a winter fitness program. Prospective members can come to the pool or any of the exercise classes to “try it out” as a guest. For more information, to set up a tour, or to become a member, call Heidi at 717.591.7222.

 Volunteer

Thanking Volunteers at Retirement CenterThe physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of volunteering are powerful. From soup kitchens to mailing packages to soldiers or distributing toys to children in need, there are many charity organizations in need of help especially over the winter. At Messiah Lifeways our Volunteer Program enlists help of all ages, but in particular residents and retirees from the community volunteer their time, talents, and spirit to other residents and clients. The hands-on work, emotional bonding, and the spirit of benevolence are enough to invigorate the body and soul through the harshest of winters. To learn more about Volunteering at Messiah Lifeways, please contact Lois at 717.790-8203.

Engage in Social Activities

It is widely acknowledged that social engagement is related to many positive outcomes in older adults. People with more social ties have been found to live longer, to have better health, and to be less depressed.¹ Unfortunately for many older adults, social circles can shrink due to illness or death, friends moving away after retirement or to be closer to family. Socialization may also suffer when they give up driving or their physical mobility becomes impaired. And lastly, the cold winter months and shorter days make it more challenging for people to socialize. But there are more and more programs and services created for seniors to revitalize and reactivate their social lives. One such option in Central PA is the Connections program. A Connections membership gives seniors from across the mid-state the chance to volunteer for each other, barter services from one another, but also offers a burgeoning social circle. This reincarnated form of “social networking” rekindles the ole’ drop in visit, outings to the movies or dinner, book clubs, membership committees, parties, and more. The possibilities are limitless, and the benefits are immeasurable. To learn more about Connections, call Megan at 771.591.7223.

Another great choice is becoming a member of your local senior center. Mechanicsburg Place and Branch Creek Place offer a great place to escape isolation for a few hours a day to socialize and connect with others especially during the winter. Sit down to hot and tasty meals, join in on activities ranging from Tai Chi and line dancing to computer classes, book clubs, and card clubs. There is something for everyone. For more information about Mechanicsburg Place, call Danielle at 717.697.5947 or Branch Creek Place in Shippensburg, call Ann at 717.300.3563.

 Seek Professional Help

Hopefully physical activity, social and civic engagement can serve as effective tools in the battle against the winter blahs. However, there are many levels of depression, and climbing out of it is no easy task. If you or your loved one feels hopeless, maintain a constant negative outlook, have significant changes in appetite, and are fatigued, irritable or restless, it could be a sign of clinical depression. Speak to a professional about treatment options so you can beat the wintertime blues.

Check out these additional tips from RealSimple.com to help beat the winter blues.

 ¹ National Research Council. When I’m 64. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2006.

 

New Years Resolutions for Seniors

A Different Approach to New Year’s Resolutions

Senior Woman PaintingEach New Year we come up with idealistic resolutions that are going to change our lives for the better such as, “I’m going to lose weight, “I’m going to take better care of myself,” or “I’m going to try start a new hobby.” So we go into the New Year committed and enthused but several weeks later many of us crash and burn. Resolutions can be a good starting point and are well intentioned, but the habitual failure may be due to the approach we use. Young or old, we should consider taking a different approach to achieve our resolutions. Try something a little different this year. Instead of joining a gym to lose weight, take ballroom dance lessons or try volunteer work that requires some physical activity. Rather than trying to commit to a rigid diet, take small steps like not eating after 7pm or not grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Particularly for our retired readers, let’s examine some alternative resolutions for those ages 55 and better.

GET A “JOB”

Becoming at At Home Caregiver

Becoming an At Home caregiver would make a great “encore career” [click the picture for more details]

You can still commit to losing weight this year, but attack it from a different angle. Upon retirement, some people become less physically active once they remove themselves from the hustle and bustle of full-time work. So this year to lose a few pounds and stay active, try volunteering or getting a part-time job. If you keep busy and stay involved, you can avoid winter sluggishness and stave off weight gain. We have many residents and family members who volunteer at Messiah Lifeways and are constantly on the go. The physical, social and emotional benefits of volunteering are tremendous. Furthermore, an increasing number of seniors are embarking on “encore careers” or “second acts” and lend their talents and spirit to a job that is more gratifying than stressful while bringing in some additional income.

If you’d like to learn more about a part-time job or a “second act” or an “encore career” check out encore.org or seniorjobbank.org, which is a website dedicated to helping people over the age of 50 connect with employers locally and across the nation for part-time and full-time jobs.

If volunteering interests you, please call Lois Hutchison at 717.790.8203 or click here for volunteer opportunities at Messiah Lifeways. You can also check out RSVP of the Capital Region online to learn about volunteer opportunities available in the greater Harrisburg region.

EXERCISE YOUR BODY AND YOUR MIND

A large part of New Year’s resolutions revolves around being healthy and feeling good. In addition to seeing your family doctor on regular basis and taking your prescribed medications, taking control and managing your individual health concerns is paramount. As people age, the likelihood of developing chronic health conditions like arthritis, congestive heart failure, obesity and diabetes grows. So, of course, physical exercise and staying active are key to staying healthy. Fortunately, local seniors age 55+ can join the Messiah Lifeways Wellness program and participate in warm water aquatics and a multitude of exercise programs and classes. Also programs supported by health insurers, such as Silver Sneakers and Silver and Fit provide additional incentives for those wanting to stay physically active. Ongoing Learning for Seniors

Equally as important as physical exercise is “mental exercise.” Crossword puzzles and Sudoku are great, but consider more active ways to “exercise” your brain and integrate it with a new hobby or interest for the new year. Learn to play an instrument, learn a new language, join a book club, or take some courses through a local community college or programs like Pathways Institute for Lifelong Learning® or consider becoming an instructor for Pathways.

Whatever you choose as your resolution this year, switch it up and make it count. To learn about more ways to stimulate your mind, body and soul, contact the Lifeways Coaching office at 717.591.7225 or email coach@messiahlifeways.org.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

updated: Dec. 29. 2015

Beating the Winter Blues with Messiah Lifeways

During the winter, depression and or isolation can be a challenge for both seniors as well as caregivers. Others may suffer from “Seasonal Affective Disorder” or SAD. For people dealing with SAD, the lack of natural sunlight in the winter upsets the sleep-wake cycle and their circadian rhythms. It may also affect the balance of chemicals like serotonin and hormones such as melatonin in the brain, which can alter one’s mood. Whether someone truly suffers from SAD or just has an annual wintertime malaise, these colder darker days can take its toll. Combine that with flu season and other cold weather ailments and it’s understandable why many flock to places like Florida and Arizona during the winter. But for many, that just isn’t an option. Plus, for caregivers who likely are still working or are being relied upon by their loved one, the best they could hope for is maybe a week’s vacation away from it all. So whether you’re a senior or an aging caregiver, consider these tips that can help you beat those wintertime blues, many of which are offered by Messiah Lifeways.

Exercise

Exercise and activity are important year-round, but winter makes it challenging. If you can’t go for a walk or exercise outdoors because of the snow and cold, then its time to start your regular indoor exercise routine. Fortunately, Messiah Lifeways Wellness offers both residents and others age 55+, living in the community, many opportunities to stay active and stave off the winter blues! Messiah Lifeways Wellness Coordinator, Heidi Koch, lists a number of winter exercise classes and programs that are open to residents, community members, and even SilverSneakers  and Silver & Fit participants. You can choose from options like Yoga, Tia Chi, Pilates, strength training, cardio, balance, nutrition, healthy cooking and aquatic classes. The warm water aquatic center boasts a comfy 90 degree pool and a spa to de-stress and relax! They can also provide fitness testing, wellness assessments, and personal training which are important facets to developing a winter fitness program. Prospective members can come to the pool or any of the exercise classes to “try it out” as a guest. For more information or to set up a tour, call Heidi at 717.591.7222.

Volunteer

The physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of volunteering are powerful. From soup kitchens to mailing packages to soldiers or distributing toys to children in need, there are many charity organizations in need of help especially over the winter. At Messiah Lifeways our Volunteer Program enlists the help of all ages, but in particular residents and retirees from the community volunteer their time, talents, and spirit to other residents and clients. The hands-on work, emotional bonding, and the spirit of benevolence are enough to invigorate the body and soul through the harshest of winters. To learn more about Volunteering at Messiah Lifeways, please contact Lois at 717.790-8203.

Engage in Social Activities

It is widely acknowledged that social engagement is related to many positive outcomes in older adults. People with more social ties have been found to live longer, to have better health, and to be less depressed.¹ Unfortunately for many older adults, social circles can shrink due to illness or death, friends moving away after retirement or to be closer to family. Socialization may also suffer when they give up driving or their physical mobility becomes impaired. And lastly, the cold winter months and shorter days make it more challenging for people to socialize. But there are more and more programs and services created for seniors to revitalize and reactivate their social lives. One such option relatively new to Central PA is the Connections program. A Connections membership gives seniors from across the mid-state the chance to volunteer for each other, barter services from one another, but also offers a burgeoning social circle. This reincarnated form of “social networking” rekindles the ole’ drop in visit, outings to the movies or dinner, book clubs, membership committees, parties, and more. The possibilities are limitless, and the benefits are immeasurable. To learn more about Connections, call Geli at 771.790.8223.

Another great choice is becoming a member of your local senior center. Mechanicsburg Place and Branch Creek Place offer a great place to escape isolation for a few hours a day to socialize and connect with others especially during the winter. Sit down to hot and tasty meals, join in on activities ranging from Tai Chi and line dancing to computer classes, book clubs, and card clubs. There is something for everyone. For more information, call Marty at 717.697.5947.

Seek Professional Help

Hopefully physical activity, social and civic engagement can serve as effective tools in the battle against the winter blahs. However, there are many levels of depression, and climbing out of it is no easy task. If you or your loved one feels hopeless, maintain a constant negative outlook, have significant changes in appetite, and are fatigued, irritable or restless, it could be a sign of clinical depression. Speak to a professional about treatment options so you can beat the wintertime blues.

 ¹ National Research Council. When I’m 64. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2006.
 
Originally posted January 21, 2014. Revised January 16, 2015.