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Volunteering and the journey to dementia-friendly

There are many good reasons for volunteering, whether you want to give back to your community, aspire to develop a new skill or want to expand your social network. But have you considered the health benefits of volunteering? Keeping your brain in shape is another important reason for volunteering and a healthy brain is vital for healthy aging for both our volunteers and our patients.

Volunteering not only engages your mind and body, but it can actually help you age well and reduce the risk of age-related diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. At Vidant Beaufort, we continue to see so many patients who struggle with dementia and Alzheimer’s. In order to better serve our patients, their families and our surrounding community, we are embarking on a journey to become “Dementia Friendly” and our volunteers will play a vital role in helping us achieve it.

A dementia friendly hospital looks through the eyes of a person with dementia; then strives to provide a safe environment where they are valued and respected. Vidant Beaufort is committed to excellence in the quality of care and experiences we create for our patients and that is why we are committed to becoming a Dementia Friendly Hospital. Dementia effects 170,000 in the state of North Carolina and people with Dementia have three times the number of hospitalizations, four times more hospital days, and three times as many ED visits as those without dementia. Those results are alarming to say the least.

Here at Vidant Beaufort Hospital, we are blessed with many wonderful volunteers, both adults and juniors who continuously sacrifice their time and energy to give back to our patients, their families and our community. Each year, our volunteers here at the hospital and at the Marion L. Shepard Cancer Center donate more than 16,000-plus hours of their time with no expectation of compensation for their time spent volunteering. Their unwavering dedication and commitment to those in need is admirable to say the least.

Each year in April, we celebrate National Volunteer Week. This year National Volunteer Week was April 7 – 13. We utilize this week as a time to celebrate the impact of volunteer services, both recognizing and thanking our volunteers for the unselfish time they lend each and every day. Their commitment to our patients and their families, our team members and our community is comparable to none. They teach us, love us, inspire us and most importantly, they are a vital part of our success and we simply could not do it without them. They are passionate and motivated to make a powerful difference in the lives of others and we are honored to call them ours.

As we become Dementia Friendly, we are actively recruiting “patient companion volunteers” who are available to sit with patients who suffer from dementia as well as provide emotional support to patients and their families. In addition to our patient companion volunteers, we are always in need of additional volunteers to serve in our many different areas including the upfront gift corner, volunteer workroom, emergency department, main lobby front desk, ambulatory surgery and at the Marion L. Shepard Cancer Center.

If you are ready to make a positive impact on others and start experiencing the wonderful mental health benefits in the process, we encourage you to be the “Hands That Serve, with Hearts Who Care” by volunteering at Vidant Beaufort Hospital. Contact Jamie Tice,  at 252-975-4161 or email her at Jamie.Tice@vidanthealth.com.

Jamie Tice is the manager of volunteer services at Vidant Beaufort Hospital’s volunteer office.