Top 4 Reasons Why Seniors Should Volunteer
Posted on April 18, 2016
Retirement is great! Managing a life-work balance, hectic
schedules, and family obligations kept life busy for years, but retirees wake
up to a blank calendar every morning. The possibilities are endless.
One of these possibilities is staying in the couch and
watching TV. It may be the easiest option, but it’s important for seniors to
stay active and engaged with others to avoid being bored. Giving back
to the local community is the perfect way to spend the post-work years.
It might seem like young people get the most out of
volunteering. Young men join the Boy Scouts, they form discipline, build
self-confidence, and learn to tie knots. High school students volunteer at
soup kitchens to bulk up their resume, gain experience, and strengthen their college
application. But what can volunteering do for seniors?
Helping others can be one of the most rewarding things in
life. These activities aren’t only for the young—they’re also for the
young at heart! Volunteering gives seniors many social, emotional, and even
physical health benefits. It is an opportunity to change the landscape of their
mind, body, and the local community around them.
Challenges of Retirement
Retirees face many challenges: social isolation, decreasing
body functions, and decreasing mental functions to name a few. Believe it or
not—getting involved with your community can be the cure.
Avoiding Social Isolation
Studies show that up to 43% of aging adults who live at home
experience social isolation. This rate is expected to rise as the number of
retiring Baby Boomers increases.
Social isolation creates detrimental health risks for
seniors, including depression, long-term illness, and falls.
Distance, lack of mobility, and loss of contact between
friends or family can result in social isolation. Volunteering gives seniors a
reason to get out of the house and into their community. They can share their
talents, wisdom, and experience with individuals they otherwise would never
have met. By volunteering, seniors can expand their social circles remarkably.
Bridging the Generational Gap
By fighting social isolation, senior volunteers can meet
many invigorating young minds. Many young people decide to volunteer,
whether it’s for personal joy, resume-building, or the fun of helping
others. This opens up unique opportunities where two different generations
can work with each other. Here are some activities that can lead to
exciting generational crossovers:
- The youth can teach the elderly the benefits of
the Internet and technology
- Seniors can volunteer at elementary schools to
share stories or help with schoolwork
- The youth can volunteer at a nursing home to
talk with and assist residents
- Seniors can volunteer at a local children’s
hospital to provide needed love and joy
Better Physical Health
Studies have shown that seniors who gave social support to
others experienced lower mortality rates. By giving older adults a reason to
get out of bed, they become
more physically active. This can help with the “retirement burnout” that
some inactive adults begin to get in old age. This leads a lower risk of high
blood pressure, heart disease, and depression.
Improved Outlook on Life
When it all comes down to it, the biggest takeaway from
volunteering is impact on the local community. When an elder volunteers at the
soup kitchen, the hungry become full. When a senior volunteers at the local
library, the young become educated.
According to the Corporation for National &
Community Service, older adults who volunteer
experience accomplishment, increased sense of purpose, and greater life
satisfaction. Researchers found that senior volunteers get a “helper’s high” - a
happy, rewarding feeling that comes from helping others. Through this positive
feeling, older volunteers trust more in others and improve their social and
Where Can Seniors Volunteer?
There is a boom of older adults seeking volunteer
opportunities around the home and even abroad. A plethora of organizations are
out there to help seniors with their searches.
Interested retirees can use a service like
Volunteermatch.com or take a look through the local city government’s
resources. Some senior citizens’ homes may have a directory of
organizations to choose from. Here are Alert1’s top organizations for
Corps: Connects today’s 55+ to the organizations that need them the most.
Seniors become mentors, coaches, or companions for those who need them the
Corps: Now actively recruiting more seniors, the government-run program
offers the exciting opportunity to work abroad. Perfect for retirees who seek a
spirit of adventure and are not interested in a traditional volunteer role.
McDonald House: The mission of RMHC is to improve the health and
wellbeing of children. Seniors can help by preparing meals, doing housework, or
hosting fundraisers to support sick or injured children.
Make a Difference
Older volunteers see improved mental health, physical
health, and an increased purpose in life. Seniors get the gratification of
making a difference in the lives of those around them. Their charitable efforts
can feed a sick child at the Ronald McDonald House or teach English to children
in Ghana through the Peace Corps. Volunteering crosses cultural and
generational barriers that truly make a difference in the world. Seniors—follow
the call and get involved today!
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