For Seniors, volunteering comes with many emotional, mental, and physical health benefits, including better cognition, a longer life, and reduced depression. Since nearly 25% of people who volunteer are over 65, there's a strong possibility that volunteering could offer a strong sense of community and friends with common interests. A number of studies confirm that volunteering can help you stay active and maintain and improve emotional well-being and support cognitive functioning.
Here’s a look at some of the top benefits of volunteer work as well as volunteer opportunities in your area that welcome older adult volunteers.
Sense of Purpose
Having a sense of purpose is important for good health and overall well-being. As we age and our roles change, our sense of purpose may feel as if it is starting to fade. While our children may rely on us less or we retire from our jobs, this reduction in responsibility offers us more time to dedicate to our personal passions. Combining your passions with volunteering can provide a sense of purpose and happiness. The people you help while volunteering may rely on you to show up and offer your much-valued time and support.
Studies show that many older adults become more isolated as they age. Adults who are socially isolated are at a 64% risk of developing dementia and at a 29% risk of premature death. They are also more likely to experience psychological distress.
Fortunately, volunteer work is one way to reduce social isolation by way of new friends and increased social opportunities—especially if you join volunteer groups with other older adults.
According to a report from AARP, nearly two-thirds of volunteers who stayed engaged in a community service program for older adults, called Senior Corps, experienced reduced feelings of isolation. According to the Administration for Community Living, 84% of Senior Corps volunteers said they experienced improved or stable health after spending two years in the volunteer program.
Lower Blood Pressure
Yes, it may be hard to believe, but volunteering helps lower blood pressure. An estimated 70% of adults in the United States aged 65 and older suffer from high blood pressure. High blood pressure increases the risk for a large number of life-threatening complications, including stroke, heart failure, and dementia. However, research shows that volunteering not only reduces high blood pressure in older adults but also contributes to increased psychological well-being.
If you suffer from high blood pressure, volunteer work may be an ideal complement to your current treatment. Ask your doctor about the safest types of volunteer work you can do based on your health condition. You could also use a wearable device or medical alert with GPS from Medical Guardian to keep you connected to emergency medical services in the event you need help—regardless of whether you are at home or away.
According to AARP, an estimated 70% of older adults who volunteer and suffer with depression said their depression symptoms improved after their first year of volunteering and have a lower rate of depression overall. Volunteer work can help combat many symptoms of depression, including anxiety and sadness. It does this by improving access to social and psychological resources, which are shown to combat negative moods such as depression and anxiety.
New research suggests that people who volunteer are generally more satisfied with their lives and rate their overall health as “better” compared with people who don’t volunteer. Additionally, people who volunteer at least once per month report better mental health than those who volunteer less frequently or not at all.
Reduced depression, a sense of purpose, and lower blood pressure can potentially add years to your life. When combined, the health benefits associated with volunteering may help extend your lifespan.
Don’t want to leave your house? Volunteer opportunities are available both in-person and virtually. Virtual volunteer is ideal if you live in a rural area or have a health condition that prevents you from leaving home.
Your healthcare provider, community center personnel, or caregivers are great resources for local volunteer opportunities. Or you could read this article on how to find volunteer options. You can also look into the following volunteer programs that seek out older adults for volunteering:
• Senior Corps with AmeriCorps
At Medical Guardian, our goal is to empower you to live a life without limits. We offer a medical alert with GPS and several other wearable devices for aging adults who want to stay active and healthy while enjoying their favorite activities and volunteer work. Contact us today at 1-800-668-9200 to learn about our many different products and services