People of all ages can benefit from volunteering, but seniors stand to gain the most from giving back. Volunteering can help seniors make new friends, lessen feelings of loneliness and depression, reduce their risk of getting dementia, and more.
With so many great reasons to volunteer, we think that every senior should try it! Keep reading to learn more about the benefits that seniors can experience by volunteering.
Volunteering Provides Social Connection
According to AARP, as many as 17% of older Americans are lonely and socially isolated. Social isolation has a number of negative health consequences, including increased risk of depression and heart disease. Isolated seniors may also experience more rapid cognitive decline than their active, socially involved peers.
Volunteering is an excellent way for seniors to get the social interaction they need to have happy, healthy golden years. Volunteer opportunities like mentoring children or entrepreneurs allow them to build close relationships with others, which helps prevent loneliness.
It Provides Structure
It can be hard for new retirees to establish routines. With years of free time stretching out before them, sticking to a schedule just doesn’t seem necessary. But without a schedule, retirees often spend too much time watching television and not enough time on the hobbies and social activities that will make their retirement fulfilling.
Seniors can prevent themselves from becoming too sedentary by scheduling some regular, weekly activities for themselves like volunteering. Volunteering gives them some structure and routine and gets them out of the house for a few hours. It won’t fill up their entire schedule, but it’s a great start!
Many seniors are on fixed incomes and can’t afford to spend a lot of money on hobbies and activities. Besides transportation costs, volunteering is free, so it’s a great way for them to fill their time.
Volunteering Keeps Seniors Sharp
Studies have shown that volunteering improves working memory and cognitive processing in older adults. Volunteering has also been shown to lower their chances of getting dementia.
The best kinds of volunteer opportunities will enable seniors to learn new things and solve problems. Being a member at a museum or a volunteer for a political campaign, for example, will engage their minds and keep them sharp.
It Gets Seniors Moving
Volunteering helps keep seniors fit, too. Helping out in the community garden or at the local animal shelter will get their body moving, which is important for their physical health.
Regular physical activity can prevent older adults from getting health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. It can also help with arthritis pain and reduce the risk of bone fractures. Staying active is good for their mental health too—it improves their mood and reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression.
It Helps Them to Follow Their Passions
Many people have hobbies and passions that they didn’t get to pursue during their work years. Retirement is a great time to explore those passions, and volunteering can help them do it.
If a senior has a passion for animals and wildlife, for example, volunteering is the perfect way to pursue it. Zoos, aquariums, and animal shelters are all fantastic places to interact with and learn more about animals, and they all need volunteers.
Volunteering Makes Seniors Happier
When seniors know that they’re making a difference in the lives of people in their community, it improves their lives, too.
Studies have shown that volunteering makes seniors happier. It’s no surprise that volunteering wards off depression and gives them a greater sense of purpose. There are few things in life that are more rewarding than lending others a helping hand and making their lives better.
It Helps Seniors Build Their Legacy
With more time on their hands, retirees may start to think about how they’ll be remembered. They may want to make a difference in the world, be remembered for the good they’ve done, and leave a legacy for future generations.
Volunteering is a wonderful way to accomplish all of those things. Seniors can choose a cause they truly care about, like animal welfare or literacy, and get deeply involved with it to build a lasting legacy.
Volunteer Opportunities for Seniors
There are many organizations that provide volunteer opportunities for seniors. Senior Corps, for example, is a government agency that has multiple volunteer programs geared towards adults 55 and older.
Through Senior Corps, seniors can become a Foster Grandparent and help mentor and tutor children in their community.
Senior Corps also offers a variety of other opportunities, such as renovating homes and helping people affected by natural disasters, through their RSVP program.
These are far from the only opportunities available to seniors. So many organizations need help! Using websites like VolunteerMatch.org, seniors can find opportunities that align with their skills and passions.
For more local opportunities seniors can check out their city website. Once they experience all of these benefits of volunteering firsthand, they might just become lifelong volunteers!