When I was a working full time, I didn’t give much thought to how I would pass the time during my retirement. I have always been a busy person with lots of hobbies and interests so the fact that I would have more time to do these things when I retired seemed like a positive thing to me. Retirement has not been a time for me to slow down, I’m fortunate enough to be in good health, so I’m living my retirement to the full and I’m enjoying lots of new things especially volunteering with the Royal Voluntary Service.
I previously worked in a role providing signposting information to older people and was always frustrated that I could not further this to a ‘hands on’ experience. I could see what needed to be done (popping out for some bread, sorting out a bill, arranging a trip to the opticians etc) but I was unable to do it under the terms of my contract.
I started volunteering for Royal Voluntary Service in 2013 and through my role I met an older gentleman called Jack. His family were convinced that he had lost contact with the world because of his isolation – he spent most of his time alone.
Jack and I now meet up once a week for a few hours and plan our activity for the day. Jack has limited mobility so we need to tailor our activities to his needs. One favourite is a trip to Waitrose where we can park near the lift and he can use a shopping trolley for stability. This trip gives him a feeling of independence, of being able to make his own food choices and also there is social interaction with the supermarket staff.
This summer, we have visited various cafes for coffee and cake in the countryside. If it is wet or Jack is feeling tired we stay in, put the world to rights, play draughts (he has been a great Bridge player in the past but I can’t match that!), look at old photos, plan menus, look at the messages on his tablet, discuss what is happening with his family, sort out any issues with his post etc. Jack has carers in each day but I also keep an eye on any health issues and report to the family who visit on a regular basis but all live too far away to make it a daily event. We have constant contact and they are really positive in their feedback, in particular they say that Jack has become far more ‘engaged’ with life in general rather than presenting an image of someone who had given up on life.
I am lucky because we have formed a bond and our meetings are a pleasure to me. He is an intelligent, articulate man and I enjoy seeing him relating to the world as it is but also being able to share with me things as they used to be.
Spending time with Jack has been one of the most positive and fun ways to spend my retirement.
Pennie, Royal Voluntary Service Volunteer
Posted by Pennie, Royal Voluntary Service Volunteer at 00:00
Thursday, 01 October 2015.
Older People's day