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Find meaning through volunteering

Woman in red sweater sharing quality time with her family

This month we celebrate National Volunteer Week; the annual celebration to acknowledge the generous contribution of our nation’s six million volunteers.  So often the conversation is about what an unselfish effort volunteering is, and what a world of difference it makes to others, as it surely does.  But volunteering is so good for you it could be promoted as a self indulgent pursuit, or even as a medicine.

The health impacts of volunteering are well documented – it makes you less stressed, gives you a sense purpose and makes you more engaged in the world around you.

According to Volunteering Australia, people who volunteer in Australia are happier, healthier and sleep better than those who do not volunteer. Sustained volunteering is associated with better mental health. So much so, they say doctors should recommend it.

The theme for this year’s National Volunteer Week is ‘Making a World of Difference’ which really encapsulates the impact volunteers have at Alzheimer’s WA.

Volunteers are a part of the heart and soul of Alzheimer’s WA. The work done out of the goodness of their hearts makes a very real difference to the lives of people living with dementia, their carers and families.

We have more than 90 volunteers who assist us in many ways through Hawthorn House in Albany, Ella’s House in Mandurah, Mary Chester House in Shenton Park and in our head office in Osborne Park.

We are also fortunate to have hundreds more volunteers who help at our events like the Walk to Remember and those who volunteer their time to fundraise by making jams, holding their own fundraising events or doing fitness challenges.

Our vision at Alzheimer’s WA is of a world where people with dementia and their families are supported and valued on their dementia journey.

We believe dementia is a lived human experience and not just a biological condition. We therefore embrace and support a holistic, person-centred approach that respects the individuality and experience of those living with dementia. This approach is sometimes referred to as a relationship based model of care.  Our work requires wonderful, empathetic, skilled people to support those in our care with dementia.

Many of our volunteers are at the forefront of this person-centred, relationship based approach. They are our volunteers on the ground supporting our centres as activity assistants in craft sessions or choir and music sessions, as cooks, transport assistants or as our fantastic men’s shed team members.

Volunteers make our world go round.  And, it seems, volunteering makes the world of the volunteer have more meaning, more satisfaction, and more connections, making the world of the volunteer work better as well.

Thousands of events will be held across Australia during Volunteer Week to acknowledge the wonderful work done by the people who selflessly give their time as volunteers to help others.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Volunteering WA and Lotterywest for enabling us to host Volunteer Week celebrations at our three dementia houses.

We rely on volunteers to enhance the life of people with dementia, add value to our services, and complement the work of our staff in their professional roles.  It’s wonderful to have funding from Volunteering WA and Lotterywest to allow us to acknowledge these life changing contributions during Volunteer Week.

If you’re looking for a way in which to give back to the community, volunteering is a win-win situation for everyone involved. Alternatively, if you want to improve your quality of life, tackle isolation, especially after leaving the workforce, improve your community connections and increase your health and wellbeing without medication, then consider a healthy dose of volunteering as your remedy.

From the millions of Australians who benefit from the generosity of spirit, time and talent of our nation’s volunteers, we say a very large, sincere thank you.  Our world is the richer for having volunteers.

To find out about volunteering with Alzheimer’s WA visit alzheimerswa.org.au, call 1300 66 77 88 or email us at support@alzheimerswa.org.au.


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