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Top 4 Reasons Why Seniors Should Volunteer

senior couple on a plane

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

happy group of seniors

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

senior helping child

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

woman exercising

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

laughing couple

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 political participation.

Where Can Seniors Volunteer?

peace corps logo

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 senior volunteers: 

  • Senior 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 most.
  • Peace 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.
  • Ronald 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

peace corps training

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!