Excerpted with permission from Aginginplace.org which is a resource hub about the specific aspects of aging in place. Their unbiased, informative guides help seniors and their loved ones make informed decisions about their homes, finances, health, activities of daily living (ADL) and independent living. The full article can be located here: http://www.aginginplace.org/how-to-volunteer-as-a-senior/
Volunteering has social, mental, and physical benefits for people of all ages. But these benefits truly reveal themselves for the elderly, who often have more times on their hands, are less physically active, and may engage less with the community. According to research, volunteers live longer because of a culmination of the following benefits:
- Socially beneficial – One of the biggest difficulties for seniors is staying social. Estimates are that up to 17 percent of Americans 55 and older could be isolated from society. The main issues that stem from being isolated include a higher rate of mortality, higher medical bills, and greater likelihood of developing an illness. Volunteering can pull elderly people out of isolation.
- Good for mental cognition – As we age, there’s an increase in the likelihood of developing cognitive issues, memory loss issues, and motor function diseases. One thing that can help slow the advancements of these diseases is staying active and using your brain. Volunteering provides opportunities to keep conversation flowing, learn something new to stimulate the brain, and help overall cognitive functions stay active.
- Helps give back to the community – Volunteering feels good and allows us to give back to the community. An elderly person brings a wealth of knowledge that can be shared through volunteering.
- Physically engaging – Physical activity is vital for an elderly person. According to the University of Southern California’s School of Gerontology, less than one third of people between 65 and 74 are physically active. That number grows for those over 75. Inactivity as we age can promote the advancement of heart issues, bone loss, joint pain, fat, and a slew of other health problems. Getting out and volunteering can help combat these issues.
- Helps fill up a day and is flexible – Sometimes a senior may struggle with finding things to fill up their time. Volunteering can help get us out of the house and keep your social engagements alive. But the best part? It can be done on our own schedule! Volunteering also gives us something to look forward to.
Now that we know why we should volunteer, consider the types of volunteering opportunities available. There are places and organizations to get involved with all over the community. Once a senior has decided they want to volunteer, it’s important to know how to get involved. There are hundreds of organizations and websites that are partially or fully dedicated to getting people involved locally, nationally, and internationally.
If you have any questions regarding volunteering, ask a fellow senior who you know is involved, read the full article referenced above, or leave a comment below. Whatever you choose to do, you’re sure to feel better once you do it!
Please look for our next blog which will cover volunteer opportunities with At Home In Darien.