Posted on May 15, 2020 in Senior Activities
With loneliness and isolation commonplace in seniors, engaging in volunteer activities can help reinvigorate a flagging social life.
Perhaps your adult children live far away, maybe your spouse has died and your hopes for the future are fading.
Remain optimistic, though…
Look at the exciting new horizons waiting to be explored, and think about how you could help others at the same time by volunteering.
Research has found that volunteering in seniors is associated with reduced cognitive decline and a lowered risk of developing dementia.
Over 100 studies have consistently found that seniors who volunteer suffer less depression, feel less isolated, enjoy better health, and live longer.
These studies attribute the positive effects of volunteering to:
As the saying goes, use it or lose it.
If you’re retired or on the verge of this transition, maybe you’re worried about how you will fill your days. You might also appreciate the benefits you’ll get in terms of keeping both mind and body active.
There are many types of volunteering so which would make most sense for you?
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is a federal organization that funds programs aiming to decrease poverty, improve education in the community, and help the environment.
CNCS runs several volunteer organizations that seniors can join to improve their quality of life while also giving back to the community.
We’ll highlight what you could gain from the following volunteer organizations:
Senior Corps is a volunteer group for over 55s that runs three volunteer organizations:
CNCS research shows that seniors who volunteer found their life became “better” or “much better” as a result.
Improvement was particularly significant with seniors who live alone.
The areas in which improvements were reported include:
Those who join Senior Corps are delivering real value to their community. The positive impact you can have on someone’s life shouldn’t be underestimated. This program can be highly rewarding for all parties concerned.
Are you a retired teacher? Are you great with numbers?
Maybe you love reading and writing?
Either way, do you enjoy working with young people?
If so, consider Foster Grandparents.
Foster Grandparents volunteers are over 55 and tutor students in busy classrooms. Tutors help with reading, writing, and math as well as providing general classroom support.
If you can inspire young people to enjoy books or give them confidence with numbers, your input would be appreciated by the younger generation.
Other programs include caring for premature babies or children with learning difficulties. You could also help by supporting victims of abuse or neglect.
Senior Companions volunteers help seniors remain independent in their homes by running errands for them.
Favors can include driving them to doctor’s appointments, giving respite to caregivers, and providing friendship and companionship.
This could be a service you offer to other less able seniors. It might also be something you could benefit from engaging with yourself. Don’t be shy to ask for help when you need it.
RSVP volunteers help others in their community by supporting American Red Cross, Meals on Wheels America, and Habitat for Humanity.
There are numerous ways RSVP helps individuals. RSVP helps veterans wanting to work find jobs, provide support in disaster situations, teach English to immigrants, renovate homes and arrange neighborhood watch programs.
The opportunities to interact with others and help them are enormous if you explore how you could volunteer with RSVP.
Do you have a musical ear?
Don’t let that gift go to waste. Instead, why not share it with others who could benefit from the uplifting power of music?
Musicians on Call volunteers visit hospitals and play for patients. Many patients, staff, and family find volunteer musicians can brighten up their days immensely.
Find more information on how to join Musicians On Call here.
Heading out into the great outdoors and immersing yourself in nature is remarkably grounding and soothing.
If you volunteer with the National Park Service you can enjoy the beauty of the natural environment while helping others to embrace it with the Volunteer in Parks program.
Once you’re a member, you could be working behind the scenes on long-term projects or serving visitors alongside the regular workforce. To find out more about volunteering with the National Park
Service, visit their website here.
If you want to help renovate homes or build shelters for disadvantaged people, you could volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. You don’t need any specialized knowledge or experience of building. All that’s required is a willingness to help.
Volunteers get the opportunity to become a Master Safety Trainer. This enables you to train new recruits on Safety Regulations. There are also opportunities in the office and helping with program management.
You can find out more about this program here.
There are many other volunteer programs you could pick. You might prefer to find a smaller, grass-roots organization in your local area.
Searching online is probably the best way to find local opportunities as most volunteer organizations have websites.
You could also ask friends and family for suggestions. Maybe try contacting local schools, hospitals, and assisted living communities to see if they could use any extra help. Sometimes, you could find organizations who hadn’t previously considered using volunteer help but could help you to make a real difference.
Whatever your skills or talents, don’t let them go to waste. You can stimulate your mind, keep your body active, and enrich the lives of others at the same time.
If you ever feel lonely or disconnected, remember that many others are just waiting for you to enter their life.
Being able to share our gifts is a gift in itself so happy volunteering! If you need any further assistance in finding a suitable channel for your energies, or have questions about assisted living, contact our friendly team here at Landmark Senior Living any time.