– By Alison Kennedy Hand, MS, Wellness Director, Florida Presbyterian Homes
The occupational dimension is defined as work that utilizes a person’s skills while providing personal satisfaction is valuable for society as well as the individual. Participating in the paid and unpaid workforce, such as when volunteering, means maintaining or improving skills and helping others. Older adults contribute to society as experienced professionals, mentors, teachers, and volunteers. Occupational wellness is achieved when you find a job or purpose in life that makes use of your gifts, skills, and talents and using those skills to enrich the lives of others. Occupational wellness means successfully integrating a commitment to your occupation into a total lifestyle that is satisfying and rewarding.
To learn more about the occupational dimension of wellness, we talked to an expert right here at FPH. Dr. Gene Scruggs is a retired educator and author having spent most of his career as a professor at USF in Tampa. His gifts and talents from his professional life have served him well with his volunteer teaching opportunities. He has led Bible discussion classes and creative writing classes here at FPH, as well as being coordinator of the FPH Academy, often serving as a guest presenter. According to Dr. Scruggs, his favorite volunteer activity has been the time spent in the assisted living facility while leading Tuesday Morning Dialogue.
Q. What volunteer activities enable you to use your skills and talents to help others?
A. Offering classes on creative writing, drawing and sketching. Conducting classes on developing and composing one’s life story. Also, giving presentations on language and history topics for the Academy.
Q. Why do you think it is important to use occupational skills/talents to help other people?
A. Giving classes keeps me sharp because I must prepare.
Q. What keeps people from using their talents/skills from helping more within their communities?
A. Worry that they are not able to demonstrate their abilities as they would like. Fear of talking to a group. Thinking their skills are not of much interest to others.
Q. Why do you think this dimension is important for a person’s overall wellness?
A. Wellness depends as much on cognitive exercise as it does on physical exercise. In fact, maybe even more, since anxiety and depression can negate the work that is being done physically.
Q. How would you encourage a retiree to make time to share their gifts and talents with others?
A. People need encouragement that their talent and their gifts, however modest they may seem, are valuable for others in the community. Their efforts will be appreciated.
Source: Dr. Gene Scruggs & www.icaa.cc/activeagingandwellness/wellness.htm