How will you live a rich and rewarding life after retirement? Is your bucket list enough to do it for you?
This question looms large in the minds of those approaching the age of 65, and even more for those already retired.
We know that seniors now live longer than previous generations. That presents several challenges related to quality of life for us, and for those we love.
We spoke with Kristin Pendleton, Volunteer Recruitment Representative at the American Red Cross. She offered great insight with respect to seniors, the benefits of volunteering, and how her organization offers rewarding opportunities.
SENIORS – A GROWING POPULATION WITH INCREASING CHALLENGES
Trends related to seniors reveal a changing social landscape. The number of home healthcare agencies here in St. Louis has skyrocketed, due to longer life spans and the rate of retirement. Approximately ten thousand people retire every day here in the U.S., according to an article published by Pew Research on December 20, 2010.
“On January 1, 2011, the oldest Baby Boomers will turn 65. Every day for the next 19 years, about 10,000 more will cross that threshold.”
That’s a large number of people with a lot of time on their hands. In some cases, seniors are not prepared to deal with it well. In early retirement years, those with the resources to work on their bucket list eventually find it less than fulfilling.
Later years are often characterized by isolation and loneliness. Those in long term care communities get far fewer visits than they would like. Their adult children are busy raising their own family, usually with both parents working.
What surfaces, is the need to be useful and to be needed by others. The idea of giving back becomes very attractive, but not everyone is proactive enough to create their own volunteer gig. Enter the American Red Cross.
THE RED CROSS OFFERS A GREAT SOLUTION
The Red Cross is one of the most recognized and trusted brands in the country. Their mission is to prevent and alleviate human suffering. That mission is mainly directed at emergency situations. But a great deal of suffering is also eased or eliminated as seniors find a sense of purpose and identity in volunteering.
Seniors express the desire to stay active, meet new people and make a difference in their community. For many, involvement in the Red Cross fits the bill. They find the enrichment and human interaction they’re looking for.
What you will discover in the Red Cross is a highly organized approach to finding, mobilizing, and supporting volunteers. The Red Cross offers a large menu of volunteer opportunities, suitable for people of different skills, situations, and preferences. In the process of recruiting and helping people find suitable opportunities, several questions are asked;
- What have you done before in your career and/or hobbies?
- What have you enjoyed doing?
- What do you never want to do again?
- How much time do you want to put in?
- Do you have mobility issues?
VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES ABOUND WITH THE RED CROSS
Seniors with varying degrees of ability, availability, and mobility find rewarding service with the Red Cross. Training is provided for each role, complete with follow-up calls every thirty days for the first three months. Volunteers are asked for their feedback, how they’re doing, whether they need any additional support, and whether their service is a good fit.
The Red Cross 5 Lines of Service. One way to find a meaningful avenue of service is to consider the five lines of service within the Red Cross. This is how the organization is arranged.
- Disaster Relief. The Red Cross responds to approximately 64,000 disasters in the United States every year. In these disasters, the Red Cross provides shelter, food, health and mental health services to help families and entire communities get back on their feet.
- Lifesaving Blood. The Red Cross is the largest single supplier of blood and blood products in the U.S. Each year, nearly 4 million people donate blood through the Red Cross, helping to provide more than 40% of America’s blood supply.
- Supporting America’s Military Families. The Red Cross helps military members, veterans and their families prepare for, cope with, and respond to the challenges of military service. Emergency communications, training, support to wounded warriors and veterans, and access to community resources help an average of 150,000 military families and veterans annually.
- Health and Safety Services. The Red Cross is the nation’s leading provider of health and safety courses, such as CPR, First Aid and Lifeguard training. Each year, more than 9 million Americans participate in their training programs.
- International Services. The Red Cross is part of the world’s largest humanitarian network with 13 million volunteers in 187 countries. Working together, they respond to disasters, build safer communities, and teach the rules of war. Each year, the Red Cross helps more than 100 million people across the globe.
For seniors with strong physical capabilities: Disaster response is a great way to serve, both in large and small-scale situations. Response to house fires is the most common activity for the Red Cross. Volunteers are trained to offer comfort, resources, and follow-up support to affected families and individuals.
For seniors with mobility who want light work: Consider working behind the scenes at a local or regional Red Cross office, or serving as a donor ambassador at blood drives.
For seniors with mobility issues: Even if a person is limited to activities where they live, the Red Cross offers several opportunities to serve; a couple of examples.
Perform research from home on your computer
Conduct follow-up calls to volunteers, checking up on them and getting their feedback
Husband and wife teams: Serve with your spouse, or don’t. Couples sometimes want to serve together in the same opportunity. Others serve, but in different areas. Sometimes a couple starts serving together, but one wishes to transition to another area.
HOW TO GET STARTED
There are far more opportunities to serve in the Red Cross than we can possibly describe here. There are even several ways to learn more and get started.
- Online: The Red Cross website is one of the best ways to learn more, research and make application to be interviewed. The Red Cross is committed to helping people discover a good fit. Learn more at www.redcross.org/volunteer.
- Experience the Mission: The Red Cross hosts monthly “Experience the Mission” meetings where volunteers from the various lines of service talk about WHAT they do, WHY they do it and WHAT keeps them coming back. It’s an opportunity for anyone interested to learn how easy it is, and how little time it takes to have a meaningful impact on their local community. The meetings are posted on their Facebook page.
- Reach out to Kristin Pendleton: Kristin is the local Volunteer Recruitment Representative. She can be reached by phone at 314-281-7968, or by email at Kristin.Pendleton@RedCross.org
WHY DOES QUINN ESTATE & ELDER LAW OFFER AN ARTICLE LIKE THIS?
It’s pretty simple, really. We’re not just about the solutions and legal documents we create for people. The families and seniors in our community matter to us, far beyond our day-to-day work. We like to provide information that helps people make better decisions and enjoy a higher quality of life.
How will your estate be handled if something unexpected happens? Will your wishes to be honored? Will your family’s interests be protected? What about those with special needs? How will you maximize the resources available to them?
If you have questions, call Quinn Estate & Elder Law at 636-686-6790.