“As you grow older, you will discover you have two hands — one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”
– Audrey Hepburn
You may already know that volunteering is a wonderful way to help others, but have you realized that giving back can also provide important physical, mental, and emotional health benefits, especially as you grow older?
Volunteering has been shown to boost happiness and social connection, bringing greater fulfillment to life. After retirement, the benefits of volunteering can extend even further to promote healthy aging. According to a study 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. Volunteering is also a way for older adults to make friends and stay sharp by learning new skills. Ultimately, giving back to others can help us live happier, healthier lives!
It’s no surprise, then, that many older adults have embraced volunteering in their retirement years as a way to stay active and engaged in their communities. While there’s no doubt that volunteering opportunities look a little different in this time of social distancing, there are still many meaningful ways to lend a hand.
Take a look at these things you can do to give back from the comfort of home:
Look for virtual opportunities
Many non-profit organizations are looking for volunteers to provide support through phone calls, video calls, and even letter writing. For example, older adults can volunteer as “foster grandparents” through the AmeriCorps Seniors program. In this program, older adults serve as role models and tutors to children and young adults in need. A similar organization is the AARP Experience Corps, which matches older adults with children who need some help reading at their grade level.
Throughout the pandemic, pen pal programs have helped people of all ages stay connected and beat isolation. These programs are particularly helpful for school-age kids learning to practice their writing and reading skills. Look into local options or register for a reputable program such as Operation Gratitude or Sharing Smiles.
Walk for a good cause
Combining your fitness goals with your volunteering goals is a great way to give back! Many local organizations are still holding charity walk/run events in a distanced format. You can sign up and donate to participate in an event, then complete your miles on your own time — in your own neighborhood or on a treadmill. Another good way to make your workouts count is with an app like Charity Miles. You can raise money for your favorite causes by simply using the app to track the miles you walk, run, or bike. The app’s corporate sponsors pledge up to $0.25 for every mile you log, so you don’t have to donate anything to make a difference.
Share your talents
Do you have a favorite hobby? It could be quilting, knitting, crocheting, painting, drawing, playing music or singing, cooking or baking. For every skill, there’s bound to be a volunteer organization that can use your talents. For example, you could make blankets for local hospitals, community shelters, or an organization like Project Linus, which provides handmade blankets for children in need of comfort.
At Bethany Village, many of our retirement community residents enjoy volunteering both on campus and within the community-at-large. From playing a musical instrument in weekly worship services to knitting or crocheting blankets and scarves to serving as volunteer librarians, there are plenty of helpful services that residents can provide within their own retirement community.
Learn more about Life at Bethany and the different activities and amenities our retirement community residents enjoy every day. There’s something to suit every interest!
P.S. As conditions continue to improve, we are looking to reinstate our volunteer program. If you’re interested in volunteering in a retirement community and helping seniors, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us here.