Volunteering can be good for your health
While many of us look forward to retirement so that we can sit on the porch and read or go fishing, many of today's seniors are looking for a sense of purpose or an outlet for creativity. These active folks have only to look to their neighbors in need to find it. Volunteering is an excellent way for any senior to not only give back to their community but also improve their health and overall well-being.
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And there are plenty of good reasons why they should! Since April is National Volunteer Month, I wanted to take a moment to highlight the reasons that volunteering is an excellent way for seniors to stay healthy and active way past retirement age.
Older volunteers can meet a wide range of local needs, including socializing with seniors living in assisted living and nursing facilities, tutoring and mentoring at-risk youth, providing financial education and job training to veterans and their families, and serving meals at soup kitchens and food pantries. In fact, an older adult who volunteers typically does so for more hours in a year than any other age group.
In addition to providing valuable services to people in need, volunteering also enables older volunteers to enjoy active lives. More and more research is showing a relationship between volunteering and physical and mental health benefits.
Studies have shown that volunteers live longer. A recent study of Americans over the age of 60 found that those who volunteer reported less disability and higher levels of well-being relative to non-volunteers. There is also growing evidence that the positive health benefits of volunteering can be due to the increased physical, social and mental activity needed to be a volunteer. Older volunteers report lower rates in mortality and depression as well as fewer physical limitations and an enhanced sense of well-being.
For seniors, volunteering can be part of a healthy lifestyle. Volunteering regularly can significantly increase physical activity. Whether a senior is stocking shelves at a food pantry, repairing houses for a disaster relief service or walking around a medical facility as a book cart volunteer, volunteering is great to keep the body active. As we age, maintaining a healthy level of physical activity will help ward off disease, injury and even dementia.
Volunteering also has a positive effect on psychological wellness. Seniors who volunteer regularly experience greater life satisfaction, a sense of purpose and accomplishment, more stress resilience, and lower rates of depression. It also fosters positive social, family and community relationships and contributes to a positive image of seniors as a healthy and vital part of our society.
Any time spent with one of our residents is priceless and appreciated more than the volunteer will ever know." At
For more information on volunteering at LSS The Good Shepherd, call