Meet Jack. He’s in his 60s, and he’s been retired now for a few years. But just because Jack has reached retirement age, that doesn’t mean he’s stopped working.
Every day, he spends a few hours with Dave, another senior who has dementia. Dave’s family has come to rely on Jack.
Jack is among the hundreds of thousands of senior citizens who have found a new purpose in life through volunteering.
And according to the AARP, these seniors are helping themselves while trying to help others. Research shows that volunteering decreases feelings of anxiety, depression, loneliness, and isolation while improving physical capacity and life satisfaction.
In 2015, a study by the Corporation for National and Community Service looked at the ways senior volunteers benefitted from offering their services. Among their findings:
- Nearly two-thirds of senior volunteers said they felt less isolated, while 67 percent of participants who had initially reported a lack of companionship said they had strengthened their social connections.
- Seventy percent of respondents who had at first shown five or more signs of depression reported fewer symptoms after their first year of volunteering.
- Another 63 percent of volunteers who had initially reported three or four symptoms of depression said they had fewer symptoms after the first year.
But those aren’t the only benefits for seniors who choose to volunteer:
1. Volunteering makes us more active
Whether you’re helping Habitat for Humanity build houses or boxing up canned goods at your community food bank, volunteering helps keep our bodies active. Physical fitness becomes more important as we age, as it helps prevent injury and disease.
2. Volunteering is good for our mental health
According to the National Institute on Aging, taking part in productive activities such as volunteer work after retirement may lower the risk of health problems in seniors, including dementia.
3. Volunteering brings people together
Senior volunteers have a fantastic opportunity to show the skills that older people have to offer the world and that they are a vital part of the community. And because volunteer work often appeals to younger people as well, senior citizens have the chance to bridge the generation gap, and maybe learn something new from their younger counterparts along the way.
How can I become a volunteer?
Do you want to become a volunteer now that you’ve hit retirement age? It shouldn’t be that hard. Organizations such as Volunteer Match can point you in the right direction.
The website A Place for Mom also lists some programs that are explicitly seeking senior volunteers:
- Seniors Helping Seniors – This organization provides educational resources referrals and support for seniors, families, and caregivers.
- Foster Grandparents – This program works with children’s organizations by offering tutoring, mentoring and care for children with special needs or facing some disadvantage.
- Senior Companions – Part of the Senior Corps, this program involves seniors assisting other older people who are homebound or sick with day-to-day tasks, or simply just offering company. (Similar to the work we described our fictional senior Jack doing in the opening paragraphs.)
- RSVP – This group offers a wide range of services, including mentoring and tutoring, environmental projects and disaster relief.
- Road Scholar Service Learning – This group lets senior volunteers give back while seeing the world, helping different causes throughout the U.S. and around the world, from teaching vital skills to helping with conservation projects.
Are you searching for a way to make your home a more livable place in the wake of your retirement? Pennsylvania Stairlifts can help.
We carry a full line of stair lifts, and platform lifts that can make your home a safer, more accessible place, allowing you to get out there, help others and help yourself. Contact us today to learn more.