Experiencing the current coronavirus pandemic is stirring up a lot of motivation to help others. From fundraising for the NHS to volunteering with one of the many community support schemes springing up around the country, these tough times are certainly bringing out the best in a lot of people! For those of us who qualify as a senior, we might imagine that there is not much we can do, but also might be surprised at what is possible with a little courage and conviction! Not only do we have the power to help in later life but doing so can provide an impressive reward of health benefits. In just a moment, we will dip into the stories of two very inspiring older individuals, but first – what are the benefits that you may experience by getting altruistic in the face of a worldwide challenge?
Giving Really Is Good For You!
It might not be the first thing that we think of in terms of healthy habits, but it turns out that a bit of altruism provides a whole host of health benefits! As much more than good for our karma, giving has been associated with increased longevity. Studies show that those who volunteer are better able to manage stress and keep disease at bay. Giving generously can be quite contagious! One act of kindness tends to spur others towards similar deeds, sending a ripple effect of wellness out into your community!
Live Longer With Increased Activity
Doing something for others tends to get us up and engaged in an activity that we would not otherwise be doing. This doesn’t have to mean taking on a physical challenge, (although of course, it can), but might simply mean getting out of the house to visit a volunteer center or check on a friend! If your altruistic activity can get you moving a bit, then all the better. It will be worth your while, as movement will help you to tap into multiple health benefits. A little bit of agility can also help you improve your balance while strengthening your bones, keeping osteoarthritis at bay, and increasing muscle tone.
The Stimulation Of Getting Social
We all need a social connection to thrive and giving is a great way of weaving it into our lives! In fact, research from Brigham-Young University found that social isolation can shorten lifespans more than obesity, so it’s certainly best avoided. The act of giving is an ideal way of building bonds. This might mean connecting with people in real life, or it might mean becoming part of an online community. In the face of being stuck at home self-isolating, interacting with people all over the world through a shared interest in good causes can leave us glowing from human connection, even if it is only virtual! As a reward, you can lower your risk of stroke and Alzheimer’s, and boost your immune system in one fell swoop!
Nothing Is Impossible: Meet Captain Tom!
On April 6th of 2020, an elderly gentleman named Thomas Moore – and known affectionately as Captain Tom got stuck into an ambitious plan. At the age of 99, he decided to walk as many laps of his garden as he could, aided by his trusty walker, with the goal of raising £1,000 by his 100th birthday, which was fast approaching on 30th April 2020. His efforts captured the heart of the nation, and before he knew it, the campaign shot past his goal and climbed to a staggering £32.79 million! As an ex-military man, who had achieved the seemingly impossible through nothing more than determination and good intention, Captain Tom’s efforts were celebrated on his birthday with flypasts from the Royal Air Force and the British Army and his appointment as an honorary colonel of the Army Foundation College. Captain Tom also received more than 150,000 birthday cards from his many new admirers!
Daring Ambition, Step By Step, With Margaret Payne
After reading about Captain Tom, 90-year-old Margaret Payne knew that she needed to spring into action too. She remembered that she had climbed the mountain Suilven during the war, at the age of 15 and in the company of her sister Elizabeth. This particular mountain is an imposing 2,398 feet tall, but Margaret had the sense she could do it again, if not all at once! She decided to climb the staircase of her home 282 times, recreating the equivalent climb of Suilven. Predicting that it would take her around two months to achieve, she set the goal of raising £10,000 for the NHS and got started on Easter Sunday. Despite knee problems, Margaret displayed true resolve, making her climbs with a walking stick. Her conviction was met with an impressive final donation value of more than £320,000!
What Can You Do To Make A Difference?
If these two incredible characters have pepped up your philanthropic spirits, you are probably wondering where to begin. It’s important to remember that as enthusiastic as we might feel, we may be a little more vulnerable as an older person during the coronavirus pandemic. This makes it wise to avoid some types of volunteering, but don’t let that dampen your spirits, as there’s still lots you can do!
Fundraising for the National Emergencies Trust is a great choice, as they are coordinating the UK coronavirus disaster voluntary relief effort, making sure that funding is rapidly distributed across the country to the places it is needed most.
Reach Volunteering is a national service that helps to pair people with the right volunteering opportunity, which in the case of older volunteers – might include picking up other’s prescriptions or picking up the telephone to check on people who are at high risk. Volunteering Matters and Do-it provide similar services, but with a focus on local charities who are seeking support. The NHS England website has specific advice about volunteering for the NHS. Beyond getting involved in any particular scheme, remember that you can help directly within your own community. Why not explore discovering who might need support in your neighborhood and encouraging others to get involved. It’s never too late to make a difference!