From 2010 to 2020, the 10 Census predicts the Massachusetts population over age 60 will grow 28%, or 360,000 people. What does this mean for volunteers, the disabled and their caregivers? Because these three groups are disproportionately over 60 years of age, this growth rate predicts an equally large increase in the need for volunteer opportunities and the need for providing services to the over-60 population.
The Massachusetts Reading Network provides services and volunteer opportunities for this rapidly growing group. The Massachusetts Reading Network’s large and dedicated volunteer force is not only reaching out and helping people in need and their caregivers, they are helping themselves. “Research demonstrates that volunteering leads to better health and that older volunteers are the most likely to receive physical and mental health benefits from their volunteer activities.” This quote comes from a report published by the Corporation for National and Community Service and can be accessed in its entirety at this link: nationalservice.gov.
We’re put on this earth to serve others in some way.
I felt it was time for me to give back. TIC is a pleasant place to come and the people here are very pleasant to work with. I feel this is my way to help out.”
Cathy Cahill, a Massachusetts Reading Network volunteer
This report “documents some of the major findings from studies that look at the relationship between health and volunteering, with particular emphasis on those studies that seek to determine the causal relationship between these two factors.” This means the Massachusetts Reading Network delivers benefits to many groups in the Commonwealth including:
Through the work of the Massachusetts Reading Network, these three groups are educated, entertained and are given the chance to remain healthier to lead more independent lives. Specifically, the report says that “volunteer activities can strengthen the social ties that protect individuals from isolation during difficult times, while the experience of helping others leads to a sense of greater self-worth and trust.”
The finding above is important for elders. For example, one study found that “volunteering among older adults (age 60 and over) provided benefits to both physical and mental health, while similar correlations were not found for mid-life adults who volunteer. The analysis also found that while depression is a barrier to volunteer participation in midlife adults, it serves as a catalyst for volunteering among older adults, who may seek to compensate for role losses and attenuated social relations that occur with aging. (Li and Ferraro, 2006)” So, by broadcasting easily accessed human voiced entertainment, news and education, volunteers not only helped those in need, they help themselves as well. And let’s not forget the caregivers. Caregivers can also feel isolated and, possibly, overwhelmed so the familiar voices from the Massachusetts Reading Network not only can provide them with a much needed break, but can also provide comfort and independence.
The Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs has a mandate to “promote the independence and well-being of elders and people needing medical and social supportive services” by providing the tools, information and comfort they need as well as to their families, and caregivers. As the need for this mandate grows, the efficiency of using volunteers to support the mandate becomes more and more important.
The efficiency comes from two places:
The Massachusetts Reading Network is also effective. Because it is statewide and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the broadcasts from the Massachusetts Reading Network are widely available via technology intentionally making it easy for the disabled to tune in.
With the growing need in the Commonwealth to support independence for the disabled, respite for their caregivers, and volunteer opportunities, the work of the Massachusetts Reading Network is more important than ever. Please click one of these links to: LISTEN, VOLUNTEER , or DONATE