The Benefits of Volunteering
Volunteering is a wonderful way for older adults to stay active and engaged in their communities, staying social and doing the activities they enjoy the most. Many adults in their twilight years find that, once retired, they always seem to have more time on their hands than they know what to do with. An ideal way that many seniors have found to fill that time, feel productive and necessary, is to give back to their communities through volunteer work.
A compilation of data about volunteering compiled by AmeriCorps in 2019 found that over 30% of baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, and nearly 25% of the silent generation, born between 1928 and 1945 were engaged in at least some volunteer work, so there’s no reason to let age stop you from doing what you love. Volunteering allows you to make a positive difference in the world around you, letting you have the satisfaction of giving back to organizations and causes you care most about.
There are many benefits, physical, mental, and emotional, that come along as a result of volunteer work. This isn’t speculation, studies have found that individuals who engage in volunteer work are, overall, happier and healthier than people who do not. Physically, volunteering can help you stay active and healthy. Many times, volunteer work will involve some walking or light lifting, which can serve both as your exercise for the day, and your good deed!
Another benefit of volunteering, described and experienced by many volunteers, is a so-called “helper’s high”, a term that describes the wonderful feeling you get after engaging in helping others. Your volunteer shifts may leave you feeling calmer, happier, and with a much improved sense of self-esteem. Many people are given a sense of purpose when they volunteer, especially when it’s in areas they find important and meaningful. It’s also an excellent way to improve your existing skills, as well as learn new ones. And even better, volunteering provides socialization. One of the most common concerns older people face is isolation, so engaging in volunteer work is a great and easy way to connect with people who you will share at least some interests with. Having conversations and interacting with others will lift your spirits, and help you to feel less lonely, and is a wonderful start to making new friendships.
These benefits do more than just make you feel good for a little while. They can reduce stress, which can in turn reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, depression, and anxiety, all of which stress increases the risk of. Additionally, engaging in tasks, learning new things, and socializing with people will all keep your mind active and engaged. Your brain is just like your muscles, and constantly using it will help stave off the risk of developing or worsening dementia. People who volunteer have lower mortality rates compared to those who don’t.
Figuring out where to volunteer is pretty simple as well. Make a list of your interests and organizations you’ve enjoyed or agreed with over the years. Then it’s as easy as inquiring with those organizations to find out if they’re seeking volunteers.