Happy volunteer seniors couple smiling at the camera on a sunny day

How Volunteering Can Positively Affect a Senior’s Wellbeing

Volunteering: It’s touted as an excellent way to use extra time and give back to a community, but it can also have marked health benefits fro seniors and aging individuals. When seniors retire, they’re often left feeling bored and uninspired. Volunteering is a fantastic way to mitigate these symptoms while also helping give back to the community. Read on to learn more about how volunteering for an important cause can help seniors live happier, healthier lives:

Volunteering helps seniors maintain active social lives

Isolation is a dangerous problem for older seniors and can dramatically increase the risk of death and chronic disease in aging people. Regardless of whether a spouse has passed away or a senior has difficulty maintaining relationships with friends and family, isolation is a dangerous place for a senior to find him or herself. Fortunately, volunteering is one of the most efficient ways to combat the effects of isolation and to help seniors maintain happy, healthy social lives. When seniors volunteer, they have a unique opportunity to meet new people, work in close collaboration with members of different generations, and learn new things. All of these things combine to create a healthy environment in which seniors can actually thrive and grow, regardless of age. Additionally, volunteering is an excellent way to encourage a depressed or shy senior to get out of the house and participate in something new, which can build confidence and reduce the risk of depressive symptoms.

Volunteering promotes physical activity

For seniors who volunteer for organizations like Habitat for Humanity or Meals on Wheels, volunteering can be an excellent way to stay active. Things like giving tours, helping build low-income housing, delivering meals, or playing with children can help seniors remain active, which can help decrease the risk of bone density issues and arthritis. Staying physically fit can also help seniors prevent dementia and other symptoms of cognitive decline. In a volunteer environment, the senior has many reasons to stay fit, including a community mindset that helps encourage activity and a group with which to be active on a weekly basis.

Volunteering helps seniors live longer

According to HealthDay, seniors who volunteer live longer than those who don’t. Research has shown that seniors who volunteer for at least 40 hours each year live much longer than seniors who don’t volunteer at all. What’s more, it doesn’t matter how or where you volunteer – it matters only that you do. Whether you want to plant vegetables in a community garden or read stories to children at your local library, volunteering is one of the best ways to ensure health and longevity for years to come.

Volunteering can help cut down on depression and anxiety

Many seniors live their daily lives saddled with the burden of depression or anxiety. Unfortunately, these things can contribute to early death and a whole host of chronic disorders, including heart disease and cancer. Fortunately, volunteering can significantly reduce depression and anxiety in seniors, contributing to enhanced brain health and greater cognitive function. Because volunteering provides seniors with a form of consistent brain activity, it can help reduce symptoms of cognitive decline and maintain a senior’s sharp mind. Additionally, because volunteering helps seniors participate in new activities and conversations on a regular basis, it can help teach seniors new things and assist them to feel more self-confident.

Volunteering gives seniors a sense of purpose

Studies have found that volunteering is a great way for the elderly to build and maintain a sense of purpose. In addition to providing a positive self-identity, volunteering can also help seniors feel like they are contributing to society and helping other people. This can shift a senior’s focus to external issues, thus alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety and giving seniors a sense of control and being needed, all of which are good for a senior’s overall health and wellbeing.

How to Find Volunteer Opportunities

For seniors interested in volunteering, there are many places to find enjoyable volunteer work. From local community organizations to big-name national volunteer platforms, it’s easy for seniors to locate volunteer work they enjoy and are interested in. Consider these platforms when searching for suitable volunteer work:
  • Volunteer March

Volunteer March is a web-based program that helps match seniors with volunteer opportunities based on zip codes. There are dozens of volunteer opportunities on the platform, including food bank, home building, and meal delivery services that seniors may be interested in. Use the platform to search for volunteer activities based on type or to check out upcoming volunteer opportunities in your city and state.
  • Community Organizations

Is there a women’s shelter or a food bank in your community that you’re impressed by? Would you like to get involved with their cause? Often, volunteering with these organizations is as simple as contacting them and asking how you can help. Community organizations are often more than willing to accept new volunteers and will happily set seniors up with opportunities to assist with events, fundraising, or daily service responsibilities. The first step to getting involved with a local agency you admire is to check their website for volunteer information. Contact the organization for more details and to ask about any needed volunteer training or requirements. Volunteering with a community organization is an excellent way to get involved in your local community and meet new people where you live.
  • Tele-Volunteer Opportunities

For people who can’t find a volunteer opportunity where they live, there are plenty of tele-volunteer positions that can be amazingly rewarding. Seniors can mentor students online or choose to participate in fundraising and advocacy with a remote organization. While this may not be appealing to seniors who aren’t comfortable with tech or would prefer volunteering at a local organization, these opportunities can be fantastic for older adults with limited mobility or for those who care deeply about a cause they can’t access in their community.


For the elderly, volunteering is a significant step in maintaining health and wellbeing. In addition to giving a senior a sense of purpose, volunteering can also help seniors stay active physically, mentally, and emotionally, which can stave off symptoms of cognitive decline and help seniors avoid the risk of chronic conditions. Additionally, volunteering can be a fantastic way for a senior to meet new people and becoming more engaged in a community. These things can go a long way toward helping seniors live happier, healthier, more involved lives throughout their golden years. By finding a volunteer opportunity you love and dedicating some time to it each week or month, you can stay happy, healthy, and active in your golden years and beyond.