Volunteering your time and energy helps strengthen your community and helps others. Plus, researchers are finding definitive links between volunteerism and important emotional and physical benefits.
Why Do It?
Volunteering decreases the risk of depression and dementia for both the volunteer and the recipient. It provides increased social interactions and a greater sense of purpose and accomplishment for both. The National Institute on Aging reported that participating in volunteer activities lowers the risk of dementia and other health problems.
Successful aging requires physical activity. Helping with a local sports team or walking as a companion to help another promotes physical and mental fitness. Older volunteers experience greater life satisfaction and increased perceived health.
The anti-depression effects and physical activity also can help reduce stress. This can help boost the immune system, promote better health and cut the risk of disease.
Giving your time to others also can make you feel like you have more time to give. A Wharton College study found that volunteers felt more capable, confident and useful. This feeling boosts self-esteem and makes you feel like you can accomplish even more. Plus, folks who volunteer by giving not only time but also money can feel wealthier, again boosting mental health.
Social isolation is a major problem for older adults, and volunteerism can help you make new friends and strengthen existing relationships. A strong social network can aid in practicing social skills and aging successfully.
Studies also point out the benefits of intergenerational relationships. Many high school students are encouraged to volunteer to bolster college applications. Seniors who volunteer can engage with this younger generation of volunteers, creating lasting friendships and shared experiences.
Retirement can be difficult for seniors, especially when someone is forced out at a relatively young age. Starting a new “career” by volunteering fills the void left by not having a workplace to go to every day....