Reaping the health benefits of volunteering - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Reaping the health benefits of volunteering

Judy Angelo. (Source: KPLC) Judy Angelo. (Source: KPLC)
The death of a spouse or retiring from a long-time career can leave senior adults looking for their place as they navigate through a "new normal." Volunteering can bring fulfillment and health benefits to the person willing to give back to others.

Judy Angelo could not have imagined that she would be the first face to greet strangers at Lake Area Medical Center four years ago. "I lost my husband about four years ago, and my son said, 'You've got to get out of the house, because you're driving yourself crazy,'" she said.

For ten months, Judy said she felt lost and knew she had to find a new purpose. "Life as you know it stops," she said. "You have to find a new way to be on the planet, and you can't go back. You can't do it over; you have to find new ways to do things."

Judy heard that this hospital needed more volunteers, just a couple of hours a day, two days a week. Social worker Linda Phillips says that is all the time it takes to see the health benefits of giving back to others. "There is a demonstrated strong correlation between longevity, length of life, and volunteers -- especially those who volunteer two hours or more every week," she said.

Volunteers like Judy greet patients, make them feel at ease and encourage them in a sometimes scary time. It is a win for patients and a win for volunteers. "It's hard to find a sense of purpose, a reason to be," said Phillips. "When you volunteer, we see that it increases your self-esteem, it gets you out, and you socialize more."

Judy has made friends, connections and says she believes volunteering saved her life. "It gave me an outlet," she said. "It gave me something to get up in the morning for. It got me back into life."

Judy also joined a social club called "Senior Circle" at Lake Area Medical Center for people over the age of 50. To learn more about Senior Circle or to become a volunteer, call 337-475-4002. 

Copyright KPLC 2014.  All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly