As a volunteer, retirement can afford you the chance to work on a project or issue that is important to you – simply for the passion of it, rather than for a paycheck. Seniors have a unique set of skills and knowledge to offer as volunteers: a lifetime of experience can help you help others in a myriad of ways, from mentoring and tutoring younger generations, to providing career guidance, to offering companionship and care.
Volunteerism isn’t just beneficial for those being helped – research shows that volunteering confers mental and physical health benefits for those doing the helping. It also fosters positive social and family relationships and contributes to a positive image of seniors as a healthy and vital part of our society. Here are just a handful of reasons volunteer activity is beneficial:
- It helps bridge the generation gap. Young people are often encouraged to volunteer as a way to broaden their horizons, improve their college prospects, build their resumes and help others while doing it. Seniors who volunteer have a unique opportunity to work with and assist younger generations — and learn from them, too.
- It helps change the way people think about older adults. By using their talents and skills out in the world in a variety of ways, seniors demonstrate that they are active, involved and essential to a healthy community.
- It is good for mental health and can help prevent Alzheimer’s. The National Institute on Aging has reported that participating in social leisure activities and meaningful, productive activities such as volunteering may lower the risk of health problems in seniors, including dementia, as well as improving longevity. Being a volunteer can help keep the brain and the body active, which contributes to continuing cognitive health, according to numerous studies.
- It helps prevent senior isolation and depression. In addition to getting seniors out of the house and into the community, volunteering has a positive effect on psychological wellness: according to the Corporation for National and Community Service, those who volunteer experience greater life satisfaction, a sense of purpose and accomplishment, more stress resilience, and lower rates of depression.
- It promotes healthy physical activity. Volunteering can be good for keeping the body active, whether you’re building houses for Habitat for Humanity or walking around your favorite museum as a volunteer docent. Maintaining a healthy level of physical fitness as we age helps ward off disease, injury and even dementia.
Source: A Place For Mom