When you retire, you may feel listless without a purpose and start withdrawing from society. This can be a great detriment to your physical, mental, and emotional health. That is why participating in purposeful activities like volunteering is the perfect chance to give older adults a goal in life after retirement. While volunteering, you can stay physically and mentally active, learn new skills, and even make new friendships with like-minded peers! Read on to learn about the many ways volunteering benefits seniors.
Keeps You Active
Some volunteering work requires you to keep on the move and stay active. For example, volunteering at an animal shelter might have you bring dogs and other animals on walks or litter-picking activities will have you walk around your neighborhood to clear up the trash and keep it clean. These are all ways in which volunteering can push older adults to stay physically active. This is especially helpful for seniors to maintain their physical health and lower the risk of physical ailments like high blood pressure and chronic pain.
Gain Social Opportunities
Another benefit of volunteering is that you can interact with people from all walks of life. This socialization can prevent the boredom and loneliness that you might feel when you are alone at home. The McMaster Optimal Aging Portal reports that up to 15% of older adults live their lives with the feeling of loneliness. Volunteering and joining community groups can help these adults meet and connect with other friendly and charitable individuals, leading to new friendships and the prevention of social isolation.
Learn New Skills
It is never too late to learn new information and skills, even at retirement age. Volunteering exposes you to many facets of life that you would have otherwise not known of. This can come in the form of volunteering to teach and meeting other volunteers who teach other skills that you don’t possess. Learning new skills can stimulate the brain and boost memory recall which is vital in aging gracefully. You can also choose to volunteer for something you are passionate about and treat it as a purposeful hobby to improve your current skills.
Boosts Mental Health
One of the more well-known advantages of volunteering is that it makes an impact on the community. Many find that being able to be a part of that impact boosts their self-esteem and self-worth. Studies suggest that helping others causes the brain to release happy hormones such as dopamine and endorphins. Volunteering also provides you with renewed motivation and creativity that can make a positive impact on your personal life.
Reduces Risk of Dementia and Depression
As mentioned before, volunteering can be mentally and emotionally enriching. Participating in mentally stimulating voluntary activities like teaching can lower the risk of cognitive conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Research conducted by the University of Calgary found that older adults who volunteered regularly for at least an hour per week were 2.44 times less likely to develop dementia than those who don’t do voluntary work. The support system that you are exposed to when volunteering is also great at combating mental illnesses like depression.