June 11, 2019
Volunteering is a wonderful thing. Dedicating your time and energy to support a charitable cause brings obvious benefits to others, but did you know that giving back can also benefit you as a volunteer?
It’s true – volunteering offers numerous mental, physical, and emotional benefits. According to research gathered by the Corporation for National and Community Service, Americans over age 60 who volunteer frequently report lower disability and higher levels of wellbeing compared to non-volunteers. Numerous studies have also found that when individuals volunteer, they are more likely to live longer, healthier lives.
While people from all walks of life can benefit from giving back, more and more older adults are turning to volunteer in their retirement years as a way to stay active and engaged in their communities – and make use of their newfound free time. Here are a few reasons why volunteering is so beneficial for retirees:
Promote physical and mental wellbeing
Getting out and giving back is one way to stay physically active at any age. Whether the volunteer activity involves sorting donations, serving food, fundraising, mentoring youth or even training service animals, volunteers tend to move more than those who don’t volunteer. Along with physical health benefits, volunteering also provides some mental health benefits. Participating in volunteer activities is shown to improve mood while reducing stress and anxiety.
Make social connections
Volunteering is all about working with others to achieve a common goal. This teamwork aspect of volunteering allows older adults to make connections, develop new friendships, and establish a strong social support system. After leaving the working world, many retirees find that their social circles start to shrink. Volunteering offers a way for older adults to stay connected to their communities and fight the risk of loneliness and isolation in retirement.
Helping others through volunteering is empowering, at any age. Connecting to a cause that is greater than ourselves makes us feel productive, capable, and accomplished, which can give our self-confidence a boost. According to a report by the National Institute on Aging, older adults who participate in meaningful activities, such as volunteering, report feeling happier and more satisfied. Committing just one to two hours per week to volunteer activities is shown to produce these positive mental health outcomes in older adults. Find a cause that aligns with your interests and values, and you’re sure to reap the rewards!
Experience a sense of purpose
Transitioning to retirement is not always easy. With fewer commitments and responsibilities, many retirees report feeling directionless or disconnected in the early stages of their retirement. But through volunteering, retirees can experience a renewed sense of purpose and direction. Overall, volunteering brings more meaning, joy, and fulfillment to our lives, all while enriching the lives of others.
Retirees have much to offer through volunteering. Plus, volunteering can be just plain fun! Many residents in retirement communities like Bethany Village enjoy volunteering on-campus and within their cities. From playing a musical instrument in weekly worship services to knitting or crocheting blankets and scarves to serving as volunteer librarians, there are many helpful services that residents can provide within their own retirement community.