People tend to think of retirement as a paid vacation, but in these strained financial times, it’s no longer reasonable to assume that you’ll be able to afford to travel the world or take up leisure activities. In addition to money savvy seniors trying to remain fiscally responsible through retirement, many of them also want to remain engaged in their community. That’s where senior volunteer work comes in.
Volunteer work for seniors not only is a great way to connect with those around you who are less fortunate, it also provides you with some serious health benefits. Studies have shown that volunteering can help you feel more socially connected to others, ward off loneliness and depression and even lower your blood pressure.
Help Others, Help Yourself
A comprehensive 2007 report by the Corporation for National & Community Service compiled data from research studies on the mental and physical benefits of volunteering and the results are staggering. Among the findings was the fact that, moreso than other demographics, older adults are more likely to yield the most results from the benefits of volunteering, including:
- Volunteer work for seniors can create a new sense of purpose, especially for those who used to define themselves through their career or role as a parent.
- While volunteer work can be rewarding at any age, “older volunteers experience greater increases in life satisfaction and greater positive changes in their perceived health as a result of their volunteer activities than do younger volunteers.”
- Senior volunteers have lower mortality rates than their peers who do not volunteer their time.
- Volunteers who suffered from “chronic pain experienced declines in their pain intensity and decreased levels of disability and depression when they began to serve as peer volunteers for others also suffering from chronic pain.”
- Volunteering has also been linked to reducing the rate of depression in those who have recently experienced heart attacks, which in turn, increases their chance at a full recovery.
Overall, senior volunteers feel a greater sense of purpose in their daily lives, which boosts both their mental and physical well-being.
Launch A “Second Career”
Many seniors have become so enamored with their volunteer experiences that they view it as a chance to start a second career later in life. A recent New York Times article profiled senior volunteers who consider their donated time as important as career work in an article entitled, “After Retirement, Finding A ‘Second Career’ As A Volunteer.”
While the article highlights programs specific to New York, they make mention of a larger national program, called Retired Senior Volunteers Program or RSVP. According to the Corporation for National & Community Service, RSVP is “one of the largest volunteer networks in the nation for people 55 and over.” The RSVP programs, which are present in various states throughout the country, offer a wide range of senior volunteer work opportunities, including:
- Organizing neighborhood watch programs
- Tutoring and mentoring disadvantaged or disabled youth
- Renovating homes
- Teaching English to immigrants
- Assisting victims of natural disasters
Medical Guardian Volunteers
Volunteer work is an important part of giving back to the community, and something that is greatly valued here at Medical Guardian. We’ve experienced wonderful volunteer opportunities, that have not only allowed us to get to know strangers in our neighborhood, but have also strengthened our bonds as a team.
From helping the homeless at the Broad Street Ministry, to serving food to seniors for the holidays, we believe in the power of giving back. If you also have had positive experiences doing senior volunteer work, we’d love to hear from you! Tell us about it in 140 characters or less on Twitter: @MedicalGuardian