How Caregivers Can Get Involved in the Community
By Abbey Carney | 07/15/2022
Many times, people think of volunteering or being involved in the community as another activity to add to their to-do list. This can especially be the case when the project we have signed on for is out of our realm of interest. Caregivers can also often feel they do not have enough time to engage in activities they enjoy.
However, finding the perfectly tailored volunteer opportunity or community engagement program can be key to gratification in our personal lives. According to the National Institute on Aging, being involved in community activities can increase social engagement and improve the health of the people who partake in them through:
- Increasing overall happiness
- Lessening symptoms of depression
- Improving thinking abilities
- Lowering the risk of certain health conditions, such as dementia.
Here are some tips to help us get involved in our communities:
1. Make your search specific
When we search for opportunities online, we should try to have an idea of what we are looking for! Examples can include:
- Leading an art class for children
- Attending a writing class at a community center
- Trying a new exercise class
- Planting flowers at a local nursing home
- Serving meals at a nearby shelter
- Working registration at the polls during election time
- Joining a murder mystery book club at the library
To begin our search for volunteer or engagement opportunities, we can try looking into options listed in local papers or magazines, or at senior centers. We can also check out the following online resources:
2. Schedule in advance
As caregivers, our lives are already busy! Because of this, we should consider scheduling our respite time regularly. An evaluation of the National Family Caregiver Support Program showed that caregivers who received 4 or more hours of respite per week reported decreased burden and a higher level of ability to continue their caregiving responsibilities. Respite will help us reset and be the best caregiver we can be to a loved one. It will also give us something to look forward to during the week.
3. Consider interactive opportunities
Activities that allow us to meet and interact with others can provide us with opportunities to socialize, especially if we are feeling isolated in our day-to-day routine as a caregiver. Engaging with others, developing relationships and receiving support can give us an outlet to unwind.
4. Learn a new skill or practice an old one
Many times, we get wrapped up in everyday life and forget about the things we want to learn or accomplish. We can take this opportunity to try something we have always wanted to or return to an activity that we used to love!
5. Have fun!
We should remember when picking an activity, it should be something that excites us. We shouldn’t be afraid to try different activities until we find something you like, and not waste our already limited time on something we will not enjoy!