Everybody can benefit from doing volunteer work, but especially seniors.
From making new friends to making a difference in someone’s life, volunteering is a rewarding way to spend free time productively. Seniors have a full lifetime of experiences to share. As former entrepreneurs, sales representatives, artists, farmers, nurses, teachers and trades professionals, to name a few of their vast livelihoods, to hobbyists like fishermen, gardeners, knitters, mechanics, wood workers, the wealth of knowledge that they can contribute to their local communities is practically endless.
Here are five great reasons why the senior in your life should become a volunteer. These are taken from Senior Corps, part of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a federal agency that connects American citizens of all demographic categories to give them the opportunity to improve their communities.
• Senior volunteers help bridge the generation gap. The cultural differences between seniors and young people are huge. Differences like technology, workplace behavior and even political differences create a great divide. But when seniors and young people get the chance to work together and collaborate, there is reciprocal learning for all involved and results in a better understanding of each other.
• Volunteering helps seniors maintain mental well-being. A recent study found that seniors who volunteer in social programs not only maintain good brain function, but their brain function and cognitive ability may actually increase.
• Becoming a volunteer helps seniors maintain physical health. Volunteering is the only productive activity proven to help prevent frailty among seniors. A UCLA study specifically suggests that of all productive activities, volunteering may actually be the best at slowing down the aging process for seniors.
• Volunteering is rewarding. Giving to others can help make us feel vibrant, important and satisfied. Being a volunteer reduces stress and increases happiness. The Corporation for National Community Service (CNCS) indicates that there are many health benefits associated with volunteering that result from the sense of accomplishment a senior volunteer feels when helping others.
• Volunteering adds years to a senior’s life. The CNCS reports lower mortality rates for seniors who provide social support for other by volunteering and found that in states where senior volunteering is high, mortality rates are lower.
The individual talent and creativity of our seniors can make an important difference in the success of our communities. So, if the senior in your life is looking for a way to give back, help him or her enrich the lives of others and ultimately their own by becoming a volunteer.
References: “12 Great Reasons to Become a Senior Volunteer,” “Senior Corps Fact Sheet,” http://www.seniorcorps.com.
Information provided by Clint Rogers, Comfort Keepers, 1300 Metro East Drive, Suite 128, Pleasant Hill, 515-243-0011.