Volunteering helps seniors maintain active social livesIsolation 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 activityFor 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 longerAccording 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 anxietyMany 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 purposeStudies 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 OpportunitiesFor 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: