Healthy secret for retirement: Volunteer your time

Jun 13, 2023, 12:14 PM | Updated: 2:04 pm

MURRAY, Utah – When it comes to retirement, there are a lot of things to consider.

But for former Murray High School teacher and administrator Scott Bushnell, there was one thing he knew from the moment he retired.

“I wanted to give back and I wanted to serve,” he said.

So, Bushnell started volunteering at the Intermountain Medical Center in Murray.

Some days, Bushnell may be one of the greeters helping visitors make their way around the large campus. On other days, he delivers gifts or flowers to patients during their recovery. Those flowers may have come right from the gift shop where he volunteers several times a month.

“Hopefully, we relieve a little of the burden of the small things that they need to do, in order to get to the most important thing: Family, friends and loved ones here at the hospital,” he said.

Studies show that volunteering after retirement benefits older adults’ psychological well-being. And volunteering significantly helps provide a sense of purpose.

Mike Rawlings is the Director of Volunteer Services at Intermountain Health, and he hears time and again similar stories from volunteers: “Several have shared that it’s the reason I get out of bed in the morning. It gives me purpose,” Rawlings said.

Volunteering can result in plenty of other physical benefits as well. According to the Mayo Clinic those who volunteer regularly report better sleep quality and reduced stress. That in turn decreases the risk of heart disease, stroke, depression, and anxiety.

Bushnell plans to keep volunteering for many more years.

“I knew I wanted to retire to something, not from something,” he said.

He feels like the relatively small amount of time he puts in each week has a huge payback.

“I like to think that we as volunteers somehow contribute to the healing process.”

Intermountain currently has about 2,300 volunteers assisting across 22 hospitals. But there is always a need for more. Anyone over age 18 can apply for volunteer positions by going to Intermountain Health’s website. 

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Healthy secret for retirement: Volunteer your time