Benefits of Volunteering

July 24, 2018

Volunteering helps give people a sense of community and reward. Volunteerism isn’t just beneficial for those being helped, research shows that volunteering grants mental and physical health benefits for those that help. 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 benefits can do be helpful for you or a loved one:

  • 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.
  • Helps to 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.
  • Good for mental health. By participating in social leisure activities and meaningful, productive activities such as volunteering may lower the risk of health problems in seniors.  Being a volunteer can help keep the brain and the body active, which contributes to continuing cognitive health, according to numerous studies.
  • Helps prevent isolation and depression. In addition to getting seniors out of the house and into the community, volunteering has a positive effect on psychological wellness, those who volunteer experience greater life satisfaction, a sense of purpose and accomplishment, more stress resilience, and lower rates of depression.
  • 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.

 

Seniors have a unique set of skills and knowledge to offer as volunteers: a lifetime of experience can help you help others in a diverse set of ways, from mentoring and tutoring younger generations to providing career guidance, to offering companionship and care.

Need help on where to start? Here are some tips:

  • Identify your strengths and how you want to serve. If you worked in accounting for your entire career, you may want to help people complete their tax returns. On the other hand, many older volunteers now want to try something different while still making a contribution. Do you enjoy teaching others? Call your local community center and learn how to start your own class!
  • Pick a group or organization which you are drawn to. If you enjoy being around animals then call your local animal shelter to volunteer. If you enjoy working with children, contact your local library or school district who may need your help with literacy or tutoring programs. Churches are always in need of help whether by greeting people and serving coffee, to teaching Sunday school classes or leading a small group.
  • Help from home. From making phone calls to writing newsletters, there are many opportunities to volunteer working from the comfort and convenience of your home.

Volunteering has always been a great opportunity to connect with others and accomplishing something for a good cause. We hope after these tips you or a loved one will begin to take initiative and go out to your city or town and begin to reap the benefits of volunteering!