MULTIPLE STUDIES HAVE shown that a rapid decline in mental and physical health can occur after retirement. According to Mary Pengra, Director of Volunteer and Community Services at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital, other big life changes, such as the death of a loved one, can compound the effect.
“I see and hear it from some of the volunteers,” Pengra says. “After retirement or a big life change, they find themselves sitting around the house. They’re not stimulating their minds or feeding their souls, and you see a decline. That’s where volunteering can make a huge difference and why many volunteers join.”
MIND AND BODY
HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals offer plenty of opportunities for retirees to stay physically and mentally active through volunteering to help others. For those who are trying to work more physical activity into their days, walking around the hospital during a four-hour shift is a great way to get moving.
“A lot of volunteers wear a pedometer to track how many miles they walk,” Pengra says.
If retirees want to keep their minds busy, volunteering can provide multiple opportunities to do so.
“Some retirees might be interested in reentering the workforce at some point,” Pengra says. “They can learn about computers or customer service in our gift shop or at the front desk.”
Volunteering can introduce retirees to a new community of friends from varied backgrounds. This social interaction often leads to extra gatherings outside of the hospital.
“I love seeing volunteers make plans to do something after they finish their shifts,” Pengra says.
HSHS Sacred Heart holds multiple events to give volunteers the chance to deepen their fellowship, among them a picnic this summer and an annual luncheon to honor volunteers.
Whether retired, widowed, or in search of a change, volunteering gives everyone the opportunity to enrich their spirit alongside others while helping those in need.
Volunteer at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital by calling 715.717.4255 or at HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital by calling 715.717.7439.
Petting, Knitting, and Singing If you have a pet, a love of knitting, or a lovely voice, there are plenty of opportunities to help the volunteers at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital. Some special opportunities include:
• Pet therapy—Volunteers with certified pet therapy dogs can bring their four-legged friends to the hospital to provide a comforting presence for patients and visitors.
• Handcrafting—Volunteers who are homebound or simply love sewing and knitting can help create hats for patients with cancer, blankets for those in palliative care, or capes for children who are admitted to the hospital.
• Singing—Volunteers can join the Hearts of Joy choir to spread cheer among patients, visitors, and staff members.