Give Back, Seniors. Volunteer.
Everyone benefits from doing volunteer work, and seniors find it especially fulfilling. From meeting new friends to making a difference in someone's life, volunteering is a rewarding, productive way to spend free time. Seniors have a full lifetime of experiences to share. Their variety of past professional work and current hobbies provide a wealth of knowledge that they can contribute to their local communities.
According to Senior Corps, there are many great reasons why seniors and their in-home caregivers should volunteer. Here are just a few:
- Volunteers are essential to the United States. Our country needs volunteers to continue thriving—especially since the economy is still recovering. In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act garnered more than 135,000 volunteers who helped more than one million people.
- American industry needs seniors. Communities need energetic seniors in order to thrive. While all volunteers make a positive impact, experienced, knowledgeable seniors make an even bigger difference by saving organizations, especially non-profit organizations, dollars that can be put to better use in other ways. The Senior Corps Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) is the nation's largest senior volunteer network. More than 72,000 different organizations use RSVP to find volunteers, making it easy for seniors to find an opportunity that works for them.
- Seniors bridge the generation gap. The cultural differences between seniors and young millennials in the community are huge. Disparities in the acceptance of technology, workplace etiquette, and even political ideologies create a great divide. When seniors and young people get the chance to work together, though, everyone involved learns from the experience, which results in a better understanding of each other.
- Senior volunteers choose meaningful opportunities. Unfortunately, most of us aren't completely invested in the work that we do; we work because we have to. However, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities available, so senior volunteers can be selective and choose work that they find important, exciting, and meaningful to them.
- Volunteering helps seniors stay mentally active. A recent study found that seniors who volunteer in social programs might actually increase their cognitive ability and brain function. Volunteering helps seniors stay sharp.
- Volunteering helps seniors stay physically active. A study by UCLA found that of all productive activities, volunteering might actually be the best at slowing down the aging process.
- Volunteering helps seniors stay socially active. Social isolation is a major factor in senior depression. Seniors who volunteer spend more time in their communities, which helps to increase their social and support networks.
- Becoming a volunteer is gratifying. Giving time to others helps us feel 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 support for others by volunteering and found that in states where senior volunteering is high, mortality rates are lower.
- Senior volunteers work flexible schedules. Most organizations offer numerous scheduling options, allowing even busy seniors the opportunity to become volunteers.
The individual talent and creativity of our seniors makes an important difference in the success of our communities. If the senior in your life is looking for a way to give back, help her enrich the lives of others, and ultimately her own, by becoming a volunteer.
Senior Corps (2014). 12 Great Reasons to Become a Senior Volunteer. Retrieved from http://www.seniorcorps.org.