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CILT’s Volunteer Vibes
Volume 6 Issue 2
September 2004
Welcome New Volunteers
We are fortunate in that we have had a number of fantastic additions to ourvolunteer team. Please join me in welcoming Suzanne Curran, Debra Hunt andRita Grotsky to CILT. We are very pleased to have them working with us.
Thinking About Today’s Older Adult Volunteer
Excerpted from "Why Volunteer? Why Not? Understanding the Motivation
Question," taken from Volunteer Connections: New Strategies for Involving Older
Adults. Volunteer Canada, 2001.

It is helpful to pause and consider the volunteerism dynamics of the more maturepopulation. Today, older Canadians, currently aged 65+, present an interestingpicture when it comes to volunteering. While their volunteer rate has begun todiminish as we saw a drop from a participation rate of 23% in 1997 to asurprising - and worrisome - 18% in 2000, those that do volunteer consistentlycontribute the largest number of hours. These volunteers are a group of peopleupon whom many non profit organizations place considerable expectations togive more time. And they respond.
Whether as parents or older siblings, today’s seniors are the role models for theBaby Boom generation and the bellwether for patterns of involvement and forsuccesses and barriers to volunteer involvement. Right now what is not known iswhether these "Baby Boomers" will take on well-established roles of today’s"super volunteers" (now in their 70s and 80s) as they move into a post-labourforce or whether they will continue to break the mould and create a new era ofcommunity engagement and social responsibility.
Many volunteers (81%) agree that finding an opportunity to use skills andexperience is a major reason for volunteering. Among older people and BabyBoomers, one presumes that the emphasis is more on use of existing skills andwisdom compared to the strong desire by young people to develop skills thatmay advance their interests in the work force.
Researchers have begun to examine the positive links between good health andvolunteering, and literature provides strong evidence that those who volunteersee a marked improvement in their state of physical and mental health. Socialsupport networks that are developed through volunteering can act as a bufferagainst stress and illness. Some experts have concluded that the health benefits CILT’s Volunteer Vibes - Volume 6 Issue 2 - September 2004 of social relationships may be as important as avoiding health risks such assmoking, physical inactivity and high blood pressure.
Volunteering can also enhance self-esteem, personal coping skills and resources– all of which have health benefits. People with a strong sense of their owneffectiveness, coping abilities, social usefulness, and who are socially active tendto have better health, lower mortality and healthier lifestyles. Volunteeringenhances health because it provides an additional role or identity. In other words,individuals with many interests and roles have increased well being.
"Volunteerism Improves Seniors’ Satisfaction with Life" reads the headline in TheSeniors Research Group Member Newsletter. A recent national study conductedin the United States by the Senior Research Group found that 52% of seniors,age 62 and older, who volunteer in their community on a regular basis feel verysatisfied with their lives compared to only 37% of seniors who never volunteer intheir community.
According to the results from the National Survey on Giving, Volunteering andParticipating, in the year 2000 the following were the main reasons that olderadults chose to volunteer: • Causes in which one believes - 95%• Use skills and experience - 81%• Personally affected by cause - 70%• Explore own strengths - 57%• Friends volunteered - 30%• Religious obligations/beliefs - 26%.
Canada's Aging Specialist Says Volunteering is a Secret Ingredient for
Healthy Aging

Press Release, Volunteer Canada, October 1999. In Montreal, one of Canada's foremost specialists on aging and the health ofCanada's senior citizens says that a good dose of volunteer activity is a secretingredient that can keep people healthy and fulfilled in their senior years.
Dr. Neena Chappell, Director of the Centre on Aging at the University of Victoria,has concluded an extensive review of North American research literature aboutthe relationship between health in old age, and participation in formal andinformal volunteer activities. Her paper, "Volunteering and Healthy Aging: WhatWe Know," was co-sponsored by Volunteer Canada, Health Canada andManulife Financial. The paper reviews what we know about why people volunteerand the benefits of volunteering in terms of health impacts.
CILT’s Volunteer Vibes - Volume 6 Issue 2 - September 2004 ‘We still need more research in this area, but the literature clearly brings us thegood news that people who give their time to a volunteer activity, especially if itinvolves helping others, are happier and healthier in their later years,’ says Dr.
Chappell, who delivered the keynote address at the opening of the 1999Canadian Forum on Volunteerism in Montreal today.
Dr. Chappell's paper asserts that the 'social support' that volunteers receivewhen they are engaged in volunteer activity is linked to their health and sense ofwell-being. The paper confirms that social interaction does have an impact onquality of life and mortality. The literature reveals that isolated individuals tend todie younger and that social engagement can help mediate the effects of stress inour lives.
Whether engaged in formal or informal volunteering tasks, Chappell also notesthat volunteers seem to derive health benefits from volunteering because theyfeel that they are useful and are making a contribution. 'Volunteering is a people-to-people business,' says Chappell. 'A lot of the benefit comes from being intouch with others and having an impact on their lives'.
This literature review also offers a new perspective on the well-being of thosewho provide informal care to ailing or elderly family members. Despite theobvious pressures on the caregiver, Dr. Chappell's paper indicates that takingcare of others can be personally satisfying. Caregiving volunteers report highlevels of personal happiness and well-being. Whether giving or receiving care,the elderly say that their relationships with others are what they value most intheir lives.
'Older volunteers are the mainstay of many voluntary organizations, and providemuch of the informal volunteering that goes on in our society,' says Ms. PaddyBowen, Executive Director of Volunteer Canada. 'Dr. Chappell's paper give us anew perspective on why and how seniors volunteer, and what we need to do toincrease their rates of participation. Engaging older adults in voluntary activitycontinues to be a priority for the sector.' Statistics Canada's 1998 National Survey on Giving, Volunteering andParticipating (NSGVP) survey indicates that almost a quarter (22 per cent in1987 and 23 per cent in 1997) of Canada's seniors participate in formalvolunteering. While the rate of participation by seniors is lower than other agegroups, the survey reveals that these older volunteers tend to give more of theirtime when they do volunteer (202 hours in a year compared with the next largestcategory -- those aged 55-64 who volunteer for 160 hours per year).
Dr. Chappell's paper admits that it is unclear whether the link betweenvolunteering and good health reflects a causal relationship or selectivity. In otherwords, does volunteering maintain and enhance well-being, or do those who arein better health tend to volunteer more? In-depth, longitudinal studies are CILT’s Volunteer Vibes - Volume 6 Issue 2 - September 2004 Volunteer Canada intends to use the Chappell paper, in conjunction with an in-depth analysis of the Statistics Canada NSGVP survey, to develop a long-termplan for increasing the participation of seniors in the voluntary sector. 'Clearly themessage that volunteering is good for your health will help us attract moreseniors to the sector,' says Bowen.
Contact the Volunteer Canada web site at for the full text of'Volunteering and Healthy Aging: What We Know', an executive summary and formore information about Volunteer Canada, the National Survey on Giving,Volunteering and Participating, and Dr. Chappell's biography.
CILT’s Volunteer Appreciation
Please watch your mail closely for an invitation to this year’s VolunteerAppreciation, which was deferred from last spring. Invitations will be mailed outshortly.
Disability Awareness Corner
Parkinson’s disease may be one of the most baffling and complex of theneurological disorders. Its cause remains a mystery but research in this area isactive, with new and intriguing findings constantly being reported.
Parkinson’s disease was first described in 1817 by James Parkinson, a Britishphysician, who published a paper on what he called "the shaking palsy." In thispaper, he set forth the major symptoms of the disease that would later bear hisname.
In the early 1960s, researchers identified a fundamental brain defect that is ahallmark of the disease: the loss of brain cells that produce a chemical called"dopamine" that helps direct muscle activity. This discovery pointed to the firstsuccessful treatment for Parkinson’s disease and suggested ways of devisingnew and even more effective therapies.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease belongs to a group of conditions called motor systemdisorders. The four primary symptoms are tremor or trembling in hands, arms,legs, jaw and face; rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk; bradykinesia orslowness of movement; and postural instability or impaired balance andcoordination. As these symptoms become more pronounced, patients may havedifficulty walking, talking, or completing other simple tasks.
CILT’s Volunteer Vibes - Volume 6 Issue 2 - September 2004 The disease is both chronic, meaning it persists over a long period of time, andprogressive, meaning its symptoms grow worse over time. It is not contagiousnor is it usually inherited – that is, it does not pass directly from one familymember or generation to the next.
Parkinson’s disease is the most common form of parkinsonism, the name for agroup of disorders with similar features. These disorders share the four primarysymptoms described above, and all are the result of the loss of dopamine-producing cells.
What causes Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s occurs when certain nerve cells, or neurons, in the area of the brainknown as substantia nigra die or become impaired. Normally, these neuronsproduce an important brain chemical known as dopamine, which is a chemicalmessenger responsible for transmitting signals between neurons in the brain.
Studies have shown that people with Parkinson’s have an 80 percent loss ormore of dopamine-producing brain cells. The cause of the loss of these cells isnot yet known, although researchers have come up with all sorts of theorieswhich, in some cases, have led to some fascinating new clues to the disease.
Some scientists have suggested that Parkinson’s disease may occur when eitheran internal or external toxin selectively destroys dopaminergic neurons. Anenvironmental risk factor such as exposure to pesticides or a toxin in the foodsupply is an example of the kind of external trigger that could cause Parkinson’sdisease. So far, however, no research has been able to provide conclusive proofthat a toxin is the cause of the disease.
Many researchers believe that a combination of four mechanisms - neurondamage, environmental toxins, genetic predisposition, and accelerated aging -may ultimately be shown to cause the disease.
Who Gets Parkinson’s Disease?
About 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year, withmore than half a million Americans affected at any one time. It strikes men andwomen almost equally and it knows no social, economic, or geographicboundaries. Some studies show that African-Americans or Asians are less likelythan whites to develop Parkinson’s disease. Scientists have not been able toexplain this lower incidence in certain populations.
Age, however, has a clear correlation with the onset of symptoms. Parkinson’susually begins in late middle age, usually affecting people over the age of 50;although, it has been known to strike at a younger age. Physicians havereportedly noticed more cases of "early-onset" Parkinson’s disease in the past CILT’s Volunteer Vibes - Volume 6 Issue 2 - September 2004 several years, and some have estimated that 5 to 10 percent of patients areunder the age of 40. Michael J. Fox, a well-known Hollywood actor, begannoticing symptoms when he was in his late twenties.
What are the Major Symptoms?
Parkinson’s does not affect everyone in the same way. In some people thedisease progresses quickly, while in others it does not. Although some peoplebecome severely disabled, others experience only minor motor disruptions.
Tremor is the major symptom for some patients, while for others tremor is only aminor complaint and different symptoms are more troublesome. Other symptomsinclude: • Rigidity - a resistance to movement due to inactivity of muscles;
Braddykinesia - the slowing down and loss of spontaneous and automatic
movement and is particularly frustrating because it is unpredictable; • Postural instability - or impaired balance and coordination, which causes
patients to develop a forward or backward lean and have a tendency tostep backwards.
There are various other symptoms that accompany Parkinson’s disease; someare minor, while others are more bothersome. Many can be treated withmedication or physical therapy. No one can predict which symptoms will affect anindividual patient, and the intensity of the symptoms also varies from person toperson, none of which are fatal, although swallowing problems can causechoking. These other symptoms include: • Depression• Emotional changes• Difficulty in swallowing and chewing• Speech changes• Urinary problems or constipation• Skin irritation• Sleep disruptions.
Treatment for patients with Parkinson’s
At present, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. But a variety of medicationscan provide relief from the symptoms. Treating Parkinson’s with surgery wasonce a common practice. But after the discovery of levodopa, surgery wasrestricted to only a few cases. Currently, surgery is reserved for patients whohave failed to respond satisfactorily to medication.
Eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet can be beneficial for anyone. But forpreventing or curing Parkinson’s disease, there does not seem to be any specificvitamin, mineral, or other nutrient that has any therapeutic value. A high protein CILT’s Volunteer Vibes - Volume 6 Issue 2 - September 2004 diet, however, may limit levodopa’s effectiveness.
Because movements are affected in Parkinson’s disease, exercising may helppeople improve their mobility. Some doctors prescribe physical therapy ormuscle-strengthening exercises to tone muscles and to put underused and rigidmuscles through a full range of motion. Exercises will not stop the progression ofthe disease, but they may improve balance, helping people overcome gaitproblems, and can strengthen certain muscles so that actions such as speakingand swallowing become easier. Exercises can also improve the emotional well-being of patients with Parkinson’s. Although structured exercise programs helpmany patients, more general physical activity, such as walking, gardening,swimming, callisthenics, and using exercise machines can also be beneficial.
1. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Bethesda, 2. American Academy of Family Physicians. April 15, 1999. Community News and Events
Toronto Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre presents their 14th Annual
Cancer Information Series, sponsored by Florence Winberg, "Dimensions of
"The Mary Sue Douglas Memorial Lecture - the Good News about Dealing
with Bad News" - Dr. Robert Buckman, M.B., Ph.D., FRCP, FRCPC

Dr. Buckman, a world class expert on interpersonal communication and amedical oncologist will give an inspirational and humorous talk on the beststrategies for talking about the subject of illness from the patient, the friend, andthe family member’s perspective. Dr. Buckman will demonstrate the simple stepsand tips that one can use to overcome communication challenges around thetopic of illness.
"Fighting Cancer with A Fork" - Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD
Suzanne Dixon, a Registered Dietician and recognized expert in cancer nutritionand epidemiology, will provide information that is vital for people who want tomake the best choices to promote true healing after a diagnosis of cancer.
"Couples and Cancer: Mapping a Shared Path" - Karen Fergus, Ph.D.
A clinician-researcher and post-doctoral fellow at the Toronto SunnybrookRegional Cancer Centre whose program of research has focused specifically onthe effect of cancer on intimate relationships and how couples cope with illness.
CILT’s Volunteer Vibes - Volume 6 Issue 2 - September 2004 "Music as Medicine" - Ann-Marie Boudreau, Soundwork Practitioner (with
Soundwork Colleagues)

Through interactive vocalizing and instrumental play, Soundwork can open up adialogue with our inner life or create a sense of community. Because of thevibrational nature of sound and through intentional sounding, we can access andexpress a range of feelings, issues and memories as well as release emotionalphysical blocks while balancing the body’s energy.
The Civic Garden Centre, Toronto Botanical Gardens (formerly EdwardsGardens) 777 Lawrence Ave. E., (at Leslie Street). Music provided by NickMoore, MD • Free admission• Parking available at a nominal fee• TTC accessible• Everyone welcome• Displays• Doors open at 7:00 p.m.
Birchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre is hosting -Chair Yoga and Tai Chi
. Enjoy therapeutic classes that you can safely enjoy while seated. You’ll
practice gentle, low-impact exercises that improve muscle flexibility, strength,
range of motion and relaxation. Participants will be encouraged to adapt
exercises to suit their abilities and choice.
Chair Yoga - Thursday afternoons
2:30-3:30pm, beginning September 16 through to December 2, 2004 from. Cost
is $20 to join.
Chair Tai Chi - Monday afternoons 11:45am-12:45pm, beginning September 13
through to December 9, 2004. Cost is $10.00 to join.
Program subsidies are available. All sessions take place at Birchmount BluffsNeighbourhood Centre, 93 Birchmount Road (at Kingston Road). For moreinformation, please call David at (416) 396-7606 or simply register at the centre’sreception desk.
The Self Help Resource Centre is hosting an information fair on Self Help. It
takes place September 29, 2004 from 3-5pm at their centre, which is located at
40 Orchard View Blvd., Suite 200 (Yonge & Eglinton). For more information, call
Jenny at (416) 487-4355.
CILT’s Volunteer Vibes - Volume 6 Issue 2 - September 2004
Petra Heinzelmann, coordinator for the Project Information Centre (PIC), has leftCILT and has moved to Switzerland. Replacing Petra, we welcome Rolita Siu.
Rolita has played an instrumental role at CILT in the past, in putting together theGreen Book - a listing of all Support Service Living Units (SSLUs) and attendantservice outreach programs in Ontario.
Also joining the staff at CILT is Judy Lu, who has been hired on a part time basisto assist Jamie with administrative duties at CILT.
CILT’s AGM (Annual General Meeting) is coming up later this month onSeptember 23, 2004 – 5:30pm - 8pm.
If you would like to attend, please call (416) 599-2458.

CILT’s Volunteer Vibes is a quarterly publication of the Peer Support Program.
If you are interested in volunteering at CILT, please call Nancy to request a
Volunteer Application Package.
Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (CILT) Inc.
205 Richmond Street West, Suite 605 Toronto, Ontario M5V 1V3 Tel: (416) 599-2458, extension 27 Fax: (416) 599-3555 TTY: (416) 599-5077 Email: or Volunteer Vibes is also available on audiotape.
Articles on products, agencies or services are for information only and are notmeant as endorsements.
The opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the contributors and maynot reflect the views of CILT.
Supported by a Toronto Community Service Grant, United Way and HumanResources Development Canada CILT’s Volunteer Vibes - Volume 6 Issue 2 - September 2004


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