Exercise Your Heart – Volunteer!

Seven women of varying ages

Keiro Senior HealthCare could not exist without the help of more than 1500 registered volunteers who give their time and skills in order to enhance the quality of senior life in our community. During National Volunteer Week, April 21-27, 2013, The Institute for Healthy Aging at Keiro would like to acknowledge the dedication of these volunteers, as well as encourage others to join us in an activity that serves the Japanese American community and benefits your own health!

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What are the health benefits of volunteering?

According to a review of volunteering published by the Corporation for National Community Service in 2007, volunteering provides benefits for both physical and mental health. These include:

  • Lower mortality rates
  • Greater functional ability
  • Lower rates of depression in later life

These benefits are even greater among older volunteers than younger volunteers.

The Corporation for National Community Service (2007) also suggests that those who have volunteered in their younger years are less likely to suffer from serious illnesses later in life, which enables them to continue volunteering as they get older. In other words, volunteering can be one of the best ways to stay healthy throughout your life!

In addition, those who volunteer are likely to live longer than those who do not. It has been shown that those who volunteer after having a heart attack reported lower levels of despair and depression. In some cases, patients with chronic or serious illnesses who choose to volunteer may experience benefits beyond those achieved through medical care alone.

Other evidence suggests that volunteering helps older adults to gain a sense of purpose and accomplishment. It also assists them with adjusting to role changes later in life (retirement or parenting, for example).

Why volunteer at Keiro?

According to a Keiro Volunteer Survey which was conducted in January 2010, many Keiro volunteers felt that volunteering at Keiro helped them increase their awareness of needs in the community, develop a social network, and increase their self-esteem and interpersonal skills.

Volunteering not only benefits others, but also the volunteers themselves. Through volunteering, you will be able to stay connected in the community and help others, which is foundational for a genki or healthy aging experience!

Volunteers receive additional benefits such as long-term care insurance, discounted tickets, discounted meals, flu shots, and invitations to exclusive educational seminars and workshops to help you maintain your own wellness.

What would I be doing if I volunteer at Keiro?

Contributing an estimated 70,000 hours of service per year, volunteers support a variety of activities to promote wellness and healthy aging in our community. Here are some ways you may get involved:

  • Assist with resident activities
  • Teach a class (ikebana, origami, exercise, and more)
  • Socialize with residents
  • Transportation (bus/van driver)
  • Entertainment
  • Become a coach through The Institute for Healthy Aging at Keiro (IHA) (teach an evidence-based class in the community)
  • Community events
  • Clerical duties
  • Support group (provide activities and generate funds)

We will find an opportunity that fits your personal skills and interests.

I have young children who need to do volunteer work as a school requirement. Can they volunteer at Keiro?

Young volunteers are welcome at Keiro with some restrictions. Generally, volunteers must be 18 years old and over. Volunteers ages 14-17 must have written consent from a parent or guardian before volunteering and also must be under the supervision of a parent or guardian while volunteering. Exceptions may be made only after meeting with the parent and at the discretion of your supervisor.

Youth volunteers will have opportunities to learn about the history and values of our community through interaction with our residents. They may also develop leadership skills and a community-oriented mindset through volunteering at Keiro. Students interested in the healthcare profession may also receive experience working directly with residents.

How can I become a Keiro volunteer or find more information?

You may complete an online application from our volunteer webpage or contact Brandon Masashige Leong, Community Resources Manager of The Institute for Healthy Aging at Keiro, at (323) 980-2352 or bleong@keiro.org. After you submit your application, prospective volunteers must attend an initial orientation session designed to give you an overview of Keiro Senior HealthCare and basic guidelines for volunteering.