As we age, it’s important to stay active and engaged with our communities. One way to do this is through volunteering. Not only does volunteering help others, but it also has many health benefits for older adults. In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, older adults who volunteered for at least 100 hours per year had higher levels of well-being and lower levels of depression than those who did not volunteer. Here are 5 ways volunteering can positively impact your health:
Improved Mental Health
Volunteering provides a sense of purpose and helps individuals stay socially connected. According to the same study mentioned earlier, older adults who volunteered for at least 100 hours per year had a 25% lower risk of developing cognitive impairment than those who did not volunteer.
Reduced Risk of Chronic Diseases
Volunteering promotes physical activity and can help older adults maintain mobility and independence. According to a study published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, older adults who volunteered for at least 200 hours per year had a 40% lower risk of hypertension, a risk factor for heart disease and stroke, than those who did not volunteer.
Increased Social Connections
Volunteering provides opportunities for older adults to connect with others and form meaningful relationships. This is particularly important for those who may be at risk of social isolation. Social isolation and loneliness can have negative health effects, including an increased risk of chronic diseases and cognitive decline. In fact, a study published in the journal Psychology and Aging found that volunteering was associated with a 30% reduction in the risk of dementia among older adults.
Sense of Fulfillment
Volunteering can provide a sense of fulfillment and purpose in life. Older adults who volunteer experience higher levels of life satisfaction and overall well-being. In fact, one study found that volunteering was associated with a 22% reduction in the risk of death among older adults.
Improved Cognitive Function
Volunteering can help keep the brain active and improve cognitive function. According to a study published in the Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, older adults who volunteered for at least 15 hours per month showed improved cognitive function compared to those who did not volunteer.
Giving back to the community provides a great opportunity to build new memories with your loved one. Get creative and see how many ways you can make a difference in your community!
Find Volunteer Opportunities
If you’re interested in finding volunteer opportunities, there are many resources available to help. Get started with these:
Americorps: a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service that connects older adults with volunteer opportunities in their communities.
VolunteerMatch: an online platform that connects volunteers with organizations in need,
AARP: offers a searchable database of volunteer opportunities for older adults.
Local Organizations: Every community has lots of opportunities to give back. Check with community non-profits, local government organizations, schools, libraries, hospitals, churches, and more.
Liz Craven, co-publisher of Sage Aging ElderCare Guide with her husband Wes, combines personal experience and heartfelt dedication in her work. Their journey in eldercare began with a personal story—caring for Wes' grandmother, Mabel, who lived with Alzheimer's. This chapter in their lives not only highlighted the complexities of eldercare but also kindled a deep-seated passion to support others facing similar challenges. Since then, Liz and Wes have navigated caregiving three more times. These experiences have added layers of depth to their insights, allowing them to offer a blend of empathetic understanding and practical advice through the Sage Aging ElderCare Guide. Liz’s commitment to making eldercare more approachable and less daunting shines through in every piece of advice she offers, aiming to ease the caregiving journey for others.