June 15, 2018

The Benefits of Being a Senior Volunteer

There are many benefits for seniors who serve the members of their community through volunteerism. Several research projects over the last few decades reveal that there is a significant link to decreased symptoms of depression and dementia in adults age 55 and over who volunteer their time. Maintaining cognitive health is an important concern of mature adults today and speaks to the many benefits of being a senior volunteer.

5 Reasons Volunteerism is Beneficial for Seniors

Often when a person retires he/she may find themselves with a lot of free time and volunteering can use the unique skills they have acquired through many and varied life lessons. Volunteering has also shown to be beneficial to the volunteer.  Below are just a few of the reasons that volunteer activities can be helpful to their health:

  • It can change the way society views older adults. By using skills and talents, seniors demonstrate that they are still active and interested in their community.
  • It helps bridge the generational gap. Seniors have a unique opportunity to work with and assist the younger generation and learn from them, too.
  • It is good for mental health and can help prevent dementia. The National Institute on Aging has reported that volunteer activities may help keep the brain and body active, which contributes to cognitive health.
  • It helps prevent isolation and depression. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, seniors who volunteer experience greater life satisfaction and develop a sense of purpose and accomplishment which decreases stress and lowers the rates of depression. Seniors who volunteer reported fewer symptoms of depression.
  • It promotes increased physical activity. Maintaining physical fitness as we age helps to ward off injury, disease and dementia.

There are many senior volunteer opportunities. Below is a list of programs designed specifically for seniors:

  • RSVP – one of the largest senior volunteer groups with close to 300,000 volunteers who participate in local projects, tutor children, assist with senior tax preparations and respond to natural disasters.
  • Foster Grandparents – a program that is dedicated to helping children/youth with disadvantages or special needs.
  • Senior Companion Program – a program of senior volunteers that focuses on helping homebound seniors with their day-to-day tasks and/or simply provide companionship.
  • Seniors Helping Seniors – a group of seniors who help other seniors/caregivers by informing them of senior support programs in their community. They have hundreds of volunteers who also help with emails, research and phone calls.
  • The International Senior Lawyers Project – a group of retired lawyers that provide pro bono legal support to seniors.

Outside of the above list are many other volunteer opportunities for seniors in every community. Your focus should be on finding a project that is close to your heart and reaping the benefits of helping others while also helping yourself.

www.aarp.org

www.nationalserviceresources.org

www.agec.org

 

by Patricia Clark, MBA, BSN/RN, HCS-D, director of  Education, West Central Center on Aging

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