Volunteering with an organization might not be something that has crossed your mind, but as many as 77 million adults volunteered through many different organizations in the U.S in 2018 alone. (1) Becoming a volunteer is a great way for senior citizens to give back and find a rewarding way to spend their free time. Volunteers experience many positive benefits for themselves, besides sharing their expertise and time.
It Boosts Your Physical and Mental Health
Keeping active during your retirement years is the best way to maintain good health. Some people promise themselves to remain active for as long as they can. Volunteering is a reliable way of keeping this promise. When compared to their peers, volunteers are on average much more active physically. (2) A sense of purpose and duty towards your volunteering position can also force you get out of the house and help you maintain good health. (3)
But physical health is where the benefits of volunteering just begin. Keeping active by volunteering is also excellent for your mental health. There are many lonely people who find a sense of community that reinvigorates them when they volunteer and gives them a new drive. In fact, almost two-thirds of seniors dedicating their time this way say they end up feeling less isolated. (4) This is in particular due to the fact that you can meet new people and make connections that keep depression and anxiety at bay.
Another way to look at it is that you can stay sharp when it comes to your profession, hobbies, and interests. For example, volunteer seniors that worked in finance can offer counseling. If you know how to cook, can, and preserve, your skills might be even more valuable. Don’t think that what you can offer isn’t valuable. Volunteering lets you share your knowledge and expertise, and being active mentally helps you greatly reduce the risk of diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
It Brings Communities Together
Selfless individuals are the cornerstones of great communities. They are the ones who make a particular place worth living in. You can do the same by volunteering. People, in general, should not be quick to dismiss older adults because they have invaluable life experiences and insights that can be beneficial to most organizations. Putting your life experience to work for the community you live in brings a sense of connection by virtue of helping others who are in need.
Being a positive role model and influence younger generations is another thing that senior volunteering can achieve. There are organizations out there that will pair seniors up with young volunteers to train a new generation. Spending time and working with people from different age groups also lets you maintain and improve your soft, or people, skills. It’s a chance to mentor others that have shared hobbies or career interests and aspirations. Best of all, doing so has been shown to improve your mental well-being.
Volunteers can also take initiative by realizing what a community is lacking and develop new programs to serve people in their neighborhood or city. By cooperating with non-profit organizations and local officials in this way, you can make sure that the things you care about the most will have someone to fight for them for years to come, which also contributes to your legacy.
Many seniors also fall naturally into leadership positions, which can prove priceless to many civic organizations. In some cases, what’s missing the most are competent leaders that can bring together people to execute a common goal. In other situations, organizations struggle to find volunteers that can put in enough time for the work to get done. Retirees and senior citizens are the perfect volunteers because they usually don’t have such busy or demanding schedules.
It doesn’t matter why you volunteer, as you will experience many benefits and help others in the process. A sense of purpose and regular schedule that comes with volunteering does wonders for your physical and mental health, not in the least because you can build new relationships and feel like a valuable member of a team and community.
If you’re interested in donating your time and knowledge, there are many local churches and organizations which will give you an opportunity to try out volunteering. Don’t worry about finding volunteer work that appeals to you because there are many roles for you to choose from. Just keep in mind that giving your time is the best gift anyone could receive.