The Benefits of Volunteering for SeniorsApril 21, 2023
Volunteering for a worthy cause does more than benefit the organization— it benefits the volunteer too. For seniors in particular, it is a great way to stay active and engaged while making a positive impact on their community. It gives them an opportunity to socialize, learn new skills, and gain a sense of purpose.
If you’re considering volunteering for the first time, there isn’t a more apt period to do it—the third week of April is National Volunteer Week– and the benefits of volunteering for seniors are plentiful. Explore how volunteering can improve both your mental and physical well-being below.
A rejuvenated sense of purpose
Following retirement, many seniors struggle with a perceived lack of purpose. This can lead to depression and other health problems. Volunteering for a cause one generally cares about returns their sense of purpose and helps them feel more valued and useful in their day-to-day life.
Doing so on a regular basis adds structure to a senior’s life that may be lacking. Operating with a schedule has been shown to be beneficial to most seniors’ overall health. It can also provide a distraction from negative thoughts and feelings, which can contribute to depression.
More social engagement
In addition to forming stronger bonds with their community, volunteering gives seniors the opportunity to develop social ties. Isolation is a significant issue for many seniors who live alone at home. Through volunteering, seniors are able to interact with others and even make friends.
Forming new bonds and friendships has been shown to have a positive impact on a senior’s overall health. The social engagement and sense of purpose provided by volunteering can help seniors feel more fulfilled and less depressed.
Improved cognitive function
Partaking in mentally stimulating activities that require creative thinking, organization, and other skills can improve cognitive function in seniors. Volunteering gives seniors the opportunity to engage with their cognitive abilities on a higher level, which may prevent cognitive decline.
Certain volunteer opportunities may provide a chance to learn new skills. Developing new talents or strengths is beneficial for brain health.
Increased physical activity
When one stays at home for extended periods of time, they do not have many opportunities to be physically active. Regularly volunteering, however, can provide the outlet one needs to stay active. Many volunteer opportunities involve physical movement, such as gardening or working at an animal shelter.
Even volunteer roles that don’t involve physical activity, like reading to children or working in an office, create a reason to get out of the house and move around. In addition to having a positive impact on their physical health, it will in turn support their cognitive and emotional health as well.
Opportunities to engage with interests
Too often we have to push aside our interests for the sake of our lives, our families, and our careers. Volunteering, however, gives seniors the opportunity to reconnect with whatever their interests are. In choosing a cause or organization they care about, seniors can feel fulfilled knowing they are aiding something they genuinely support.
An opportunity to give back
In the midst of one’s career, most people don’t have as many opportunities to give back. Following retirement, seniors have the ability to make a positive impact on their community and give back. One of the best ways to do this is to volunteer. Whether it’s working in a soup kitchen, tutoring children, or volunteering at a hospital, seniors can feel good about the difference they’re making in their community.
What are some great volunteer opportunities for seniors?
Sometimes, what holds a person back from volunteering is not knowing how to get started. Thankfully, the process is simpler than you might think. You may find calls for volunteers at your local community center, or even on the bulletin board at your grocery store. If your interests are more niche, you can search for them on Google or use a website like Volunteer Match.
For some ideas of organizations to volunteer with, consider these opportunities.
- Local/state/national parks. The park services are always looking for individuals to help with the upkeep of our natural lands. Some may include sitting in an office, which others might have you out at the park. You can select an opportunity based on your physical needs.
- Animal shelters. If you’re an animal lover, volunteering at a shelter gives you the opportunity to connect with people and furry critters alike. You might spend time with the animals themselves, or work with people.
- Community garden. Volunteering at a local garden gets you outside and moving while taking care of something beautiful. Community gardens may even deliver fruits and vegetables to food pantries or soup kitchens.
- Public schools. Public schools are always looking for individuals who can help their students thrive. Opportunities may include volunteering in the lunchroom, assisting with tutoring, or helping in the front office.
Finding support with Home Care Powered by AUAF
Volunteering is a great way for seniors to stay active, engaged, and make a positive impact on their community. Seniors who are looking for a way to stay active and engaged should consider volunteering, as it can provide numerous benefits for their physical and mental health.
However, in order to volunteer in the way they’d like, many seniors need assistance at home. This is where Home Care Powered by AUAF comes in. Our dedicated home care professionals can provide assistance with any of the activities of daily living you need help with, including medication reminders, meal preparation, and personal care. To learn more about our services, give us a call at 773-274-9262.
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