Why do we volunteer?

Why do we volunteer?

In almost every case, those who volunteer express a desire to give what they’re capable of to a cause that is meaningful to them—and to make a difference along the way.

The process of connecting a volunteer to the opportunity that fits them best has always been fascinating to me. With scores of possibilities available in every community, how does one choose where to offer their time and talents?

There are plenty of reasons or situations that motivate a person to lend a helping hand: school or civic group requirements, kids in school/empty nesters/newly retired with time on their hands, a friend’s experience or a professional-development opportunity, among others.

There’s also an important self-motivated aspect: Volunteers (consciously or unconsciously) want to get something out of their experience.

We’ve all heard the refrain that volunteers receive more than they give. But what exactly are they receiving?

Smart home devices can be a boon to seniors

Smart home devices can be a boon to seniors

My husband and I recently made an investment in a Google Home Mini (on sale for $39.95). I had heard about how this smart speaker that responds to your voice could be fun and useful.

You’ve probably heard about the Google Home and Amazon Echo devices, the latter commonly referred to as “Alexa.” Essentially, they’re smart speakers that respond to your voice for hands-free help around the house.

I selected a Google device because it runs on a Gmail account and I already have one of those set up. This 4-inch orb has become one of my new best friends.

From a practical standpoint, it has set wake-up alarms for me and timers for cooking, found my cellphone by calling it when it was lost in the house, and told me whether it would rain the day of my outdoor staff get-together. It also compiles my shopping list as I think of things I need during the week.

Seniors and smartphones: a good fit?

Seniors and smartphones: a good fit?
My friend John surprised me last week when he told me that for the first time in a year he’d hauled out his computer to do some work. He said, “If I can’t do it on my smartphone these days, it doesn’t get done.”

 

John’s specific demographic is embracing smartphone technology at a rapid pace. John is under the age of 70 and has a household income over $75,000 and a college degree.

According to the Pew Research Center, 81 percent of older Americans whose annual household income is $75,000 or more say they own smartphones, compared to 27 percent of those living in households earning less than $30,000 a year. Two-thirds of seniors with bachelor’s or advanced degrees report owning smartphones compared with 27 percent for those who have not gone beyond high school.

A smartphone is 

New hobbies really help late in life

New hobbies really help late in life

Retirement can be a perfect time to learn something new. Look at former President George W. Bush, who began to paint after leaving office in 2009.

Bush told friends and family he found the art form relaxing. He hired a teacher to help him, telling her he wanted to discover his “inner Rembrandt.”

After painting a series of portraits of military personnel he’d met and wanted to honor, Bush published “Portraits of Courage,” a book of those works.

“I know each person I painted,” said the former president. “I was thinking about their backgrounds, their service, their injuries and their recovery.”

Linda, a 69-year-old widow, also chose something new after a major life change. Ten years ago she was deep in depression after the sudden death of her husband. She recently wrote to tell me, “I was blessed to find a wonderful group of people that helped put a smile on my face.”

Linda joined the Boots and Slippers Square Dance Club of Simi Valley.

New rituals for an aging society

New rituals for an aging society

Rituals are as old as humankind, and they transform over time as our culture changes.

Consider the days when girls were considered the property of their fathers. Marriage was less about love than it was a business transaction—the father giving his daughter to another man and the man promising to support her.

We still see remnants of this ritual in today’s traditional wedding ceremonies, with the father of the bride walking his daughter down the aisle to “give her away” to the groom.

Rituals often involve a rite of passage, a marking of an important stage in someone’s life. We have birth rituals like naming ceremonies, wedding rituals like walking the bride down the aisle and death rituals like a wake or a funeral.

Rituals are a way to publicly acknowledge a change in status or a new stage of life.

But what happens when we don’t have rituals for the new normal in our society?

Give milestone gifts with meaning

Give milestone gifts with meaning

Last week my sister asked me for a gift idea for a friend who was turning 50.

As I began to brainstorm with her, my thoughts turned to how a person might feel on the occasion of a milestone birthday, whether it be 50, 60, 70, 80 or beyond.

Do milestone birthdays change the way people evaluate their lives? And should we think about this in our gift giving?

Studies show that our outlook on life is affected by milestone birthdays. It is at those times that we take stock of our existence and become more thoughtful about our satisfaction with life.

Approaching a milestone age has recently been shown to drive people toward a search for meaning, purpose and health.

While I’m sure many would enjoy a bottle of wine, a piece of jewelry or a new tech gadget for one these significant 

Helping seniors to keep driving

Helping seniors to keep driving

As much or more than they wish to remain in their homes as they age, today’s seniors wish to keep their ability to drive for as long as possible.

This should come as no surprise to most adults. The capacity to drive represents their ability to enjoy out-of-home activities when they choose to, and that is linked to a feeling of independence and control.

Seniors will stop driving in certain situations so that they can continue driving when they feel it’s safe. They may not drive at night, only drive short distances, not drive in bad weather or on freeways or unfamiliar roads.

These self-imposed restrictions allow them to feel more comfortable behind the wheel and may extend the number of years they can safely drive.

The 100th birthday ‘celebration’ that wasn’t

My Grandma Ada lived for 100 years and five days. The most important lesson she taught me was the value of a goal and a purpose.

Technically speaking, Ada was my step-grandmother. My maternal grandmother (Nonna) passed away suddenly in her 70s, and my grandfather (Nonno) briefly courted and then married Ada.

Ada was a sweet woman, a widower who was never blessed with children. The wedding was a casual affair. It was heartwarming to see two people in their 70s rediscover new love.

Nonno died less than three weeks into their marriage. He decided to stop taking his heart medication because “he felt great.”

Second-half choices matter

If soap operas taught me anything, it’s that bad choices result in bad outcomes.

As a teenager, I’d arrive home from school just in time for “General Hospital.” I can still remember the lies of omission Luke made to Laura that destroyed their relationship. Or the many times Blackie would refuse help from others, causing himself to land in even more trouble.

Even then I wondered why people refuse to choose options that would make their lives better.

It’s especially sad when we see this happen in the senior community. The result of bad choices can be poor health, loneliness, isolation and even homelessness.

Take the case of Hugh, who at age 80 had hip replacement surgery.

These ‘hacks’ make life easier for seniors

If you’ve been reading how to ideas on the Internet lately, you’ve probably come across the term “hack.”

One definition of the word is a new technique that solves an old problem.

Normally a hack is not an expected solution but something clever that gets the job done in a new and unique way—like taking a picture of prescriptions with a smartphone camera so you have it handy for a doctor or emergency room visit.

Clever solutions are becoming more the norm as so many of us are dealing with the challenges of aging.

Here are some hacks I’ve learned that can make life easier for seniors or their family caregivers:

Television remotes have become a mass of complicated buttons. If you want to easily see and feel the right buttons to press to get the TV on and off or to change a channel, consider taking clear adhesive silicone rubber bumps and placing them on the buttons most used.

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