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Marissa Salvesen

By: Marissa Salvesen on April 8th, 2014

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The Benefits of Volunteering at a Senior Living Community

assisted living  |  Aging & Caregiving

Today's senior living communities rely strongly on volunteers to create meaningful activities and programs for their residents. Volunteers are a vital part of the community, offering their time, talent, and skills to every dimension of life.

If you've been considering becoming a volunteer, here are some benefits to keep in mind:


Gaining a Wealth of Knowledge

Sitting down and chatting with a resident can provide a wealth of knowledge for any individual! Many older adults have life experiences much different from other younger generations. They may have spent a few years serving their country in the military during a life-changing war, or struggled to get by during an economic depression.


They have clearly lived through some of the greatest changes technology has brought to our world, from kitchen appliances and color television, to computers and cell phones. Listening to their stories can provide wisdom and insight for life, offering a new perspective for your own life circumstances.


Adding to Your Job Experience

Looking to bolster your resume? Volunteering in a senior living community can provide you with valuable experience for any career. Organizing, coordinating, and assisting with fundraising, daily activities, special events, and other details can help to strengthen your skills for the workplace.


Building relationships with residents, family members and staff can serve as a networking opportunity and help to strengthen your communication and interpersonal skills, which can help you stand out as a strong candidate in your field. Many volunteer directors are also happy to write a letter of reference when needed.


Improving the Life of Residents

Serving as a volunteer offers important opportunities for social interaction for both you and the people you work with in any senior living community. While volunteer opportunities may vary between communities, building relationships with the residents of the community can be most worthwhile. Giving a manicure, providing an escort for an outdoor walk, leading a discussion, or simply having a conversation, can not only put a smile on a resident’s face, but also provide much needed support and encouragement.


Loneliness has been directly related to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. With that in mind, think about the difference you can make in someone’s life when you take the time to sit and chat or offer a meaningful experience for them.


Supporting Families

Families with loved ones living in senior living communities benefit greatly from knowing that in addition to caring staff, mom or dad can enjoy extra attention from volunteers who offer support and a listening ear, and help create a sense of fun and belonging within the community. Volunteers can offer much-needed time and assistance, such as helping a resident organize a closet, writing cards or notes, or recording a resident’s life story; all tasks that can help families with the responsibilities of caregiving, providing them peace of mind.


Making New Friends

Volunteering in a senior living community also offers the chance to make new friends! Forming friendships with the residents of the community can be a most rewarding experience. While initially, you may feel as if you have very little in common, you may be quite surprised at how much you truly do share, whether it is a love of music, a favorite sports team, a hobby, a travel experience, your family background or even something as simple as a book you’ve both read.


All of these similar interests provide a starting point for a great conversation that can lead the way to a lasting and meaningful relationship. Imagine sitting down to chat with a resident to find that he spent much of his younger years playing the trumpet in a jazz band….only something you would discover after initiating a friendship!


 Key Takeaways:

  • Volunteering can provide valuable experiences for all aspects of life.
  • Volunteering can offer important opportunities for strengthening your skills in preparation for any career.
  • Take advantage of the benefits of volunteering at a senior living community: gaining a new perspective on life, strengthening your skills, enhancing residents’ lives, supporting families, and building friendships.

            United Methodist Homes- Essential Caregiver's Guide        

About Marissa Salvesen

My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!

Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.