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On October 25, 2011, I attended the community service fair in the KCC. There were many tables set up with different opportunities to volunteer in the Bridgewater community. One of the organizations that caught my attention was the Bridgewater Retirement Community. Helping my community at home was something I took a large role in and I want to continue giving my helping hand in Bridgewater. Since it is close to campus, I took a large interest in helping the retirement community.
Retirement communities are in sudden need of volunteer help, not only in Bridgewater but also all over the United States. In 1945 when World War II ended, it was a time of great excitement and celebration. The soldiers were returning home from war and ready to start a real life with their families. An unaccountable amount of couples decided the best way to start their life again was to have and raise children together. This caused for an outrageous increase in the population due to all of the excitement. The children born during the time period, 1946 till 1964, are known as baby boomers. Since then it has been sixty-six years and that large population of people are now looking to retire and find homes that provide extra help and care.
There are an overwhelming number of elderly people entering retirement communities; this surge of elderly people has brought about a need for more help. Despite the increased need for help, there are not many people available to help making the demand high and the supply low. Because of the high demand for help at nursing homes, the employers are willing to give a potential employee a higher salary to convince them to work at the nursing home. These higher salaries are causing the cost to live in a nursing home to increase, meaning the patrons of the nursing home are forced to spend more of their savings. This is where volunteer service is wanted; retirement communities are looking for someone who will help but are not asking for money in return.
There is a hard time finding people to volunteer mostly because of the idea of ageism, meaning to be prejudice against someone because of their age (GDAC 2011). Young people tend to discriminate against the elderly more than anyone else and these are the people that are needed to volunteer. GDAC says that the elderly has a stereotype attached to them that they are lonely, forgetful, old-fashioned people (2011). This stereotype holds a lot of college and high school students back from taking time out of their schedule to spend time with these “senile” elders. Most students want to talk about the latest technology or the latest gossip where the retirees do not know too much about the iPhone or your friends from home. This can create an image that the elderly are boring people to talk to or be with because they cannot relate or share similar stories. Another thing influencing younger people to not volunteer their time is the image that has been made of old grumpy men in movies (GDAC 2011). When children are young and are constantly watching movies about the unhappy old man who picks on kids, or shoots at birds and is generally unpleasant, it portrays a bad image of what elders are truly like. These two concepts can be a big contribution as to why volunteers are lacking at retirement communities, although it is not only younger people who volunteer. I plan to be one of the college students that stands up and goes out to help my new Bridgewater community with the many baby boomers soon to be coming in.
Although the baby boomers may affect the retirement communities in a poor way, Parsons idea of the disengagement theory proves that the baby boomers could have a positive affect on our economy. Talcott Parsons, a functionalist theorist, developed an aging theory saying that it is functional for society to take people from their accustomed roles when they age to free those roles for others (GDAC 2011). Since there are over millions of baby boomers, jobs are soon going to be opening fast. Taking a large amount of people out of the working environment within only a few years is going to open up a lot of new opportunities for people to move up in the business world, allowing college graduates to come in taking over the previous jobs. This could hopefully turn our economy around in the next couple years and allow for the many people that have been losing jobs to get back into the business world.
The baby boomers will constantly be retiring and moving over the next decade or so allowing for a lot of change in the world. I personally believe it will be a good change for our society, allowing new jobs to the people that have been struggling in our recent economic depression. I also think it may encourage more people into volunteering at the retirement communities and will hopefully change the image that the elders carry with them today. Volunteering is a good way to get out of the house, or dorm, and make an impact in the community and on other peoples lives.
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