Spiritual: Living with Purpose
Twice a week, Lois Anderson sets off from her home at Delmanor Elgin Mills in Richmond Hill, Ontario, and drives to her volunteer jobs. Tuesdays, the 85-year-old widow travels to Kingcrafts House in King City, where she teaches classes in stained glass and enamelling.
Fridays find her answering questions and dispensing directions behind the information desk at York Central Hospital, where she's volunteered for the past 43 years. Not once since moving to this retirement community two years ago has it occurred to Lois to give up on giving back. Nor should it.
"Giving back helps a person understand their life has purpose, their life has meaning, that there's a higher power," says Pat Irwin, a certified senior adviser and president of ElderCareCanada. "We all need to be needed but seniors often tell me they don't have a role anymore. They'll say, 'I have disappeared.'" Unfortunately, this feeling can negatively impact their sense of self. Couple this with the isolation they may experience if they're living alone, and you've got a recipe for loneliness and self-neglect. Fortunately, moving to a retirement community can turn this around.
Lois praises the staff at Elgin Mills for supporting her volunteer interests, mentioning how they've even given her a small room to do her stained glass in when she's not in the classroom. Seniors who don't have a particular skill like Lois or aren't as mobile can still enjoy the spiritual benefits of giving back that are afforded by retirement home living. "Something as simple as holding up the conversation at your end of the table or looking out for other residents is a way to give back," says Irwin. As the Greek fable writer, Aesop, said, "No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted."
This is one of a series of articles detailing seven pillars of a fulfilling retirement. Six other articles discuss other critical aspects of an ideal retirement including the following: