Volunteering your time and energy helps strengthen your community, but it also has important emotional and physical benefits.
According to a study done by the Corporation for National and Community Service, Americans over the age of 60 that volunteered reported lower disability and higher levels of well-being compared to those who did not volunteer.
1. Helps bridge generation gap.
By interacting with younger generations, seniors are able to share important life lessons. On the flip side, younger generations are able to teach seniors new ways of looking at life. By building a connection with each other both generations are able to offer the respect and affirmation that humans crave.
2. Volunteering time makes you feel like you have more time.
Giving others your time can make your time feel more affluent. A study done at Wharton College found that people who give their time felt more capable, confident and useful. Since they were able to accomplish one thing, they feel they will easily accomplish tasks in the future. So, even though realistically they have less time, they feel as though they have more time. Similarly, those who donate their money feel like they are wealthier.
3. It’s good for mental health.
Volunteering keeps the brain active, which contributes to a person’s cognitive health. The National Institute on Aging reported that participating in activities that are meaningful and productive may lower the risk of dementia and other health problems in seniors.
4. Helps prevent senior isolation and depression.
While getting out of the house is important at any age, research found that volunteering can have positive effects on a person’s psychological health. In a study done by the Corporation for National and Community Service, researchers found that individuals who engaged in volunteering activities experienced a shorter course of depression than those who did not volunteer. Volunteering provides the senior a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
5. It promotes physical activity.
Physical activity remains an important role in positive health outcomes through the oldest ages. Whether that activity is helping with a local sports team or walking around your neighborhood while volunteering as a companion, maintaining a healthy level of fitness helps fend off diseases as you age.
Volunteers generally believe community is important and what you can do to help the community is just as important. Sound advice to anyone who wants to get out and volunteer but is shy about it is, “do it, do what you can, and learn what you need to know to be helpful.”
However you decide to spend your time volunteering, it’s important to look for opportunities that fit into your schedule. Many retirees find activities that are flexible fit into their schedule best. Other people are able to volunteer 20 hours a week and still have plenty of time to partake in other activities.
Find an activity you’re passionate about. Volunteering is best for all parties involved when you are doing something you enjoy. It’s never too late to get started. Whether you just retired or are in your later years there is an opportunity out there for you.