WA Seniors Week: November 6 – 13
VOLUNTEERING is playing an increasingly important role in the lives of seniors, whether as a participant or recipient.
Marlene Oostryck, who set up the Fremantle Volunteer Service after retiring and finding herself at a loose end, says the more the issue is researched, the more benefits are uncovered.
“All of the latest research is showing that to stave off alzheimers and all the other degenerative diseases, you have to be connected to the community, and volunteering is one of the best avenues,” Ms Oostryck says.
“Apart from participating, you’re also passing on your skills – sharing them whether it’s with kids or other older people – and that’s really important for the community.”
For the last five years Ms Oostryck has been organising a culture club at East Fremantle’s Glyde Inn, organising trips to concerts and events for participants, who mainly tend to be somewhere between their 50s and their 80s.
‘“That’s very rewarding, because I get great enjoyment from bringing people together,” she says.
Ms Oostryck’s husband suffers from alzheimers, and like many other seniors she’s found the prospect of attending events on her own daunting, so having the culture club has also given her more opportunity to get out.
“A lot of the people who come would be single and they would not go to a play or a concert by themselves, but as a group they find it easier to go, and then we have a coffee afterwards.
“I do matinees so single people don’t have to be walking home unaccompanied, so it’s a safe and secure thing to do and people appreciate that.”
Jim and Wanda Bennett are also long-term volunteers with Volunteer Task Force (VTF), giving a hand in the garden for elderly people or those with disabilities so they can stay independent at home.
Once a week they volunteer, although a flexible agreement with VTF means they opt out when the sun’s a bit too hot.
“It’s good that older people can get out and volunteer,” Ms Bennett says.
VTF’S volunteer supervisor Michelle Williams says the couple have been an inspiration to younger volunteers.
“It’s great that we have a number of retired couples who chose to volunteer with us,” she says.
Ms Williams says there’s many benefits to volunteering, as it brings greater health and happiness through new friendships, purpose, and more physical and mental activity.
VTF offers a wide range of volunteering and services to people requiring support including gardening, shopping, companion services and community outings. VTF boasts a team of more than 100 staff and nearly 500 volunteers and helps out more than 8000 people in Perth every year.
To find out more about them, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or if the internet’s a bit too newfangled for you, give them a call on 9318 5700.