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Health Benefits of Volunteering for Seniors
Seniors who give their time to others stay physically and mentally active as they stay involved with people in their community. Volunteer work comes with many lifelong health benefits that help seniors stay healthy as they age.
Here are 9 mental and physical benefits of volunteering for seniors to help encourage them to stay active and engaged through volunteer work!
Gives a Sense of Purpose
People who volunteer feel that they have a greater sense of purpose than those who do not. Many seniors may want to find ways to reconnect with others as they move into retirement and no longer have kids to care for in the house.
Volunteering is a way for seniors to continuously stimulate their minds and feel like they’re part of something bigger. Giving back can be a way for seniors to discover that they can still make a difference even as they age.
Improves Brain Health
Seniors are at risk for cognitive decline as they age, which puts them at risk for memory loss, dementia, Alzheimer’s, loss of fine motor skills, and loss of brain functioning.
According to The National Institute on Aging, meaningful activities such as volunteering improve overall brain health and cognitive functioning. Those who volunteer keep their minds active, whether they’re knitting scarves for people who can’t afford winter clothes or cooking meals for the homeless.1
Keeps Seniors Engaged In Their Favorite Hobbies
Many seniors have a passion for their favorite hobbies, whether they enjoy sewing, painting, making music, cooking, teaching, or building. Volunteering is a way for seniors to keep up with their favorite hobbies while giving back to others.
For example, a senior who enjoys painting can volunteer at an art camp to teach kids how to draw. An older adult with a hobby of woodwork can utilize their interest to build a playground for the local park. Someone who enjoys teaching can volunteer to be a tutor at a local school.
There are volunteer opportunities available to seniors that cover most hobbies and interests, and a senior can look for something that fits their talents and skill level.
Allows Seniors to Stay Active
Physical activity keeps the body’s bones and muscles strong. Staying active can help prevent health concerns common among seniors such as muscle weakness, joint problems, and nervous system difficulties.
Physical activity is another one of the many benefits of volunteering for seniors because they will get up and move. Volunteer activities such as racking leaves, cooking food for the less fortunate, picking up trash around the community, and dog walking can help older adults engage in physical activity each week.
Prevents Senior Isolation
Did you know that loneliness affects more than 40% of seniors? Lonely seniors are more at risk for mental problems such as anxiety and depression.2 Humans are social creatures, and many older adults want a sense of belonging whether they live alone or wish to keep a sense of purpose during retirement.
Volunteer opportunities can help seniors reconnect with their friends or make new ones throughout their newfound experiences. Keeping a strong social network is another health benefit of volunteering for older adults because it can help them feel like they belong as they age.
Helps Seniors Learn New Skills
Volunteering allows people to learn a new skill that they may not have known before, which is another one of the benefits of volunteering for seniors. Many volunteer opportunities are willing to train those who participate in their cause.
Volunteer work is a great way for older adults to discover new talents they may not have known they had. Volunteering can also allow a senior to try something they always wanted to learn but never had the chance to.
Bridge the Generational Gap
Students in college or high school are encouraged to seek volunteer opportunities to expose themselves to diverse populations and build their resumes. Seniors can connect to the younger generation by getting involved in volunteer projects where they can serve as mentors and leaders.
Seniors will be able to teach what they know to the youth and learn more about the younger generation by interacting with them. Volunteering gives seniors the unique opportunity to bridge the generational gap and inspire the youth to carry on the talents they show them.
According to the American Institute of Stress, 20% of older adults feel stressed out. Stress puts seniors at risk for health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, anxiety, heart disease, and cardiovascular disease.3
Research shows volunteering reduces stress because the brain produces dopamine as a reward for volunteer work. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps someone relax and improves their feelings of positivity. When seniors volunteer, they will feel appreciated and have a sense of purpose, which can help reduce stress over time.4
Makes Seniors Feel Like They Have More Time
Volunteering increases productivity, allowing people to feel like they have more time than they actually do. A study conducted by Wharton College found that those who volunteered felt more capable and useful. As participants accomplished one task, they felt that they could do more in the future, which gave the participants a feeling that they had more time.5
Seniors who volunteer believe that they have more time to give as they become productive in the community. A sense of accomplishment is a health benefit of volunteering for older adults that can help them feel as though they can tackle more tasks in the future.
Where Seniors can find Volunteer Opportunities
There are many volunteer opportunities available to seniors in their local communities. Here are a few places seniors can contact to find volunteer opportunities:
- Service organizations
- Homeless shelters
- Animal shelters
- Youth programs
- Food pantries
- Political organizations
- Local Camps
- Senior Centers
- Local Art Groups
Saber Healthcare Encourages Seniors to Volunteer
Here at Saber Healthcare, we encourage seniors to stay involved in their local community. Many opportunities are available that fit a senior’s current skill set and physical capabilities. If your loved one is interested in volunteering, work with them to find the right fit.
Saber Healthcare is an organization that provides services to more than 115 buildings across the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana, Delaware, and Florida. To learn more about our company and the services we provide, click here.
Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long-term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.
- “Cognitive Health and Older Adults.” National Institute on Aging. 1 October 2020. Accessed 28 April 2022. Link: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/cognitive-health-and-older-adults
- “5 Ways To Help Seniors Feel Less Lonely.” Saber Healthcare Group. 28 January 2022. Accessed 28 April 2022. Link: https://www.saberhealth.com/news/blog/how-to-help-seniors-feel-less-lonely
- “Percentage of older adults in the U.S. who felt depressed stressed, or nervous for several days or more within the past two weeks as of January 2021.” American Institute of Stress. Accessed 28 April 2022. Link: https://www.stress.org/seniors#:~:text=Twenty%20percent%20of%20older%20adults,13%25).
- Thoreson, Angela. “Helping people, changing lives: 3 health benefits of volunteering.” Mayo Clinic Health System. 16 September 2021. Accessed 28 April 2022. Link: https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/3-health-benefits-of-volunteering#:~:text=Volunteering%20reduces%20stress%20and%20increases,have%20a%20stress%2Dreducing%20effect.
- “Five Benefits of Volunteering in Retirement.” Senior Community Services. Accessed 28 April 2022. Link: https://seniorcommunity.org/five-benefits-volunteering-retirement/