Beavercreek woman, 84, energized through volunteerism

Staying active is a key component to enjoying life, and Carolyn Klaus, of Beavercreek, has channeled her energy into a fulfilling life that involves volunteering.

“I think it’s important to keep busy and it’s important to get out of your house,” Klaus said. “My husband’s death created a hole, and I made a conscious decision not to sit in my chair and get old. It’s important to keep your mind working. I enjoy jigsaw puzzles on the computer, and I’m interested in learning new things.”

Klaus, who has lived at Traditions of Beavercreek for the past three years, volunteers once per week at the Soin Medical Center, twice per week at the Beavercreek Senior Center and also volunteers at her church.

“I’m very lucky because I’m still pretty healthy and mobile. It makes a big difference in my ability to be able to do things. I like to be out among people.”

Klaus estimates that she started volunteering with her church in 2008, and the senior center and medical center in 2017.

Klaus also participates in the handbell choir at her church, Christ Church United Methodist in Kettering. She started playing the handbell in the early 1990s when her family lived in Texas. They lived in Texas for 16 years before moving to Beavercreek in 1984.

She also enjoys traveling and having lunch with friends.

“The volunteer work has been wonderful. It’s a reason to get up and go somewhere, and do something meaningful. It’s an easy way to make friends.”

More about Klaus:

Name: Carolyn (Sheehan) Klaus

Age: 84

Hometown: Raised in Rantoul, Illinois; lived in Beavercreek for 40 years

Spouse name and number of years married/number children, grandchildren: Married 55 years to Caesar Klaus, who died in 2014 after an 11-year battle with Alzheimer’s; 4 children, 6 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.

Favorite memory of your hometown: Our house on a corner and playing outside until dark with neighbor children (tag, hide and seek, Red Rover); Saturday movies, my parents gave us each a quarter for a 14-cent ticket, popcorn and candy, summer band concerts on the steps of the high school, walking to the grocery store, listening to my mother play our old upright piano. (As a teenager, 18 years old, she had played for the silent movies, providing mood music as the scenes changed on the screen. Played “by ear.” If you could sing it, she could play it.)

How has aging affected your daily life: Some things are harder to do, like opening a bottle or jar; reaching things off of high shelves; and hearing loss, although minimal.

What is your favorite activity: Volunteering, walking, visiting with friends and family, playing in the church handbell choir.

How long do you plan to work or how long have you been retired? I never had a career, nor did I desire to have one. My “career” was taking care of my family. Two of my children were born with intellectual and physical disabilities; daycare was not readily available, nor were public school programs, so a great deal of my time was spent seeking educational opportunities and activities to enrich their lives, while attempting to keep up with my other two very bright, very busy girls.

How do you stay fulfilled in retirement: Volunteering!!! My volunteer activities involve learning new things almost every day. It makes me feel like I am still useful and can contribute in a meaningful way. After I have completed a volunteer shift, I am happier, almost exhilarated, even when the tasks have been challenging. Volunteering makes my heart “sing.”

Biggest challenge of being a senior citizen: Avoiding scams (it’s exhausting); having opinions discounted because you have gray hair; social activities/traveling without a spouse/partner.

Biggest reward of being a senior citizen: Discounts! Courtesy demonstrated by most strangers.

Most satisfying part about life today: Having the time to make my own plans. Having the freedom to do what I want to do when I want to do it.

What does the future hold for you: Only God knows the answer to that question, but I can tell you that it’s my intention to stay as physically and mentally active as possible for as long as possible.

Best advice for individuals 60 years and older: Stay active; try to get out into the community daily; look for joy in all that you do; try not to worry about things beyond your control.

As the Bible says, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34.

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