The Many Benefits of Volunteering as a Senior
Volunteering is a great way for older adults to stay engaged in their communities and the activities they enjoy doing the most. Once fully retired from their careers, older adults often find that they have more time on their hands, and an ideal way to feel productive and fill that time is to give back through volunteer work.
According to 2019 data about volunteering compiled by AmeriCorps , over 30% of baby boomers and nearly 25% of the silent generation volunteer, showing that age shouldn’t stop you from doing what you love. You’ll make a positive difference by volunteering, knowing that you are giving back to the organizations you care about most—and you can even earn a paycheck!
Feel Your Best by Volunteering
There are many physical, mental and emotional benefits that come along with volunteer work. It’s more than speculative, as The Washington Post reported that those who volunteer are happier and healthier than those who do not.
Physically, volunteering can help you stay active and healthy. Perhaps your volunteer work will involve walking or light lifting. It can serve as your exercise for the day, as well as your good deed!
Another amazing benefit of volunteering is the “helper’s high”—a term used to describe how wonderful you feel after helping others. You may leave your volunteer shifts feeling calm and happy, and your self-esteem may be improved. Volunteering gives many people a sense of purpose, especially when they volunteer in areas they find meaningful. It’s also an excellent way to improve your current skills and learn new skills. On top of that, volunteering provides socialization. Having conversations and interacting with others can lift your spirits and make you feel less lonely. Since the people you’ll be volunteering with share common interests with you, it’s also a wonderful way to form friendships or cultivate the ones you have.
All of these benefits do more than make you feel good—they can also help reduce stress, which further decreases the risk of physical and mental health issues like heart disease, stroke, depression and anxiety. Furthermore, a Longitudinal Study of Aging found that people who volunteer have lower mortality rates than those who don’t .
Give Back to the Organizations You Love
You can choose how to spend your time volunteering, and there’s nearly a volunteer opportunity in every field, as well as one that will meet any interest. You can give your time to your local hospital, food or wellness organization, animal shelter, nursing home, arts or music organization, faith-based organization, veterans program, park or gardening program … the list goes on! You may have many interests and want to try out a few options before deciding upon where you’ll spend most of your time volunteering. If your schedule and health allow it, you may even pick more than one place to volunteer.
To figure out where to volunteer, make a list of your interests and local organizations you have enjoyed over the years. See if you can find a match, and then inquire if the organization is seeking volunteers. You can also ask for recommendations—where are other older adults near you volunteering? Or, if the place you had your heart set on isn’t seeking volunteers, do they know of somewhere that is? There’s sure to be a great community service volunteer opportunity out there for you!
Make an Impact … and Earn a Paycheck!
It’s often said that the greatest reward of volunteering is the impact you can make in your community. While that is certainly true, it could also provide an income while you gain the well-being benefits that volunteer work brings. It’s possible to have the best of both worlds when you become a Right at Home caregiver.
Right at Home caregivers provide care and companionship to older clients. They can prepare meals, help with light housekeeping, provide transportation, run errands, and help with dressing, grooming and other hygiene care. As a Right at Home caregiver , you would have the power to improve the quality of life for older adults and people with disabilities, by helping them remain safe and independent in their own homes. It’s a wonderful opportunity for those who have a passion for helping others. Perhaps the position would be right for you, so consider becoming a Right at Home caregiver. Find a location near you to inquire about open positions.
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Former Nurse, Family Caregiver Enjoys Second Career as Professional Caregiver in Home Care
"I've thought about properly retiring in the future, but being a caregiver gives me so much flexibilty when it comes to my schedule that I can enjoy other parts of my life and still do the job," Judy Harris says.