It’s no secret that volunteering helps your community, the less fortunate, and your nation, but did you know that it also helps improve your health? There have been numerous studies done that prove it really does pay to give back to your community. Volunteering your time is a great way to enjoy boosts to your mental and physical health, while doing something good for the world. Some of the numerous benefits of volunteerism include:
Fosters a Sense of Community
Volunteer opportunities serve as an opportunity to encourage a community of people, regardless of backgrounds or beliefs, to come together towards a common goal. The sense of community that volunteering creates tends to benefit Boomers more than it does younger generations, such as millennials. According to the Corporation for National & Community Service, “The volunteer activities of older persons are more likely to be discretionary and provide them with a purposeful role in their community; for these reasons, the experience of volunteering is more likely to be beneficial to them.”
Allows for Social Interaction
One of the top reasons for health decline in seniors is social isolation. Social isolation in seniors can lead to feelings of depression, loneliness, and anxiety. Our Executive Director at Poet’s Walk Leesburg, David Compton, explained that “The volunteer programs that we offer our residents often include visits from younger generations, which allow the seniors to engage with people their own age as well as younger people. It’s such a joy to see them interact and share their wisdom with the future generation.” Social interaction is a crucial component to the happiness of older adults and volunteering is a great outlet for it.
Lowers Risk of Dementia
Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease are realities that many senior citizens and their families have to face. However, new studies have been linking a decreased risk or slowed down progression of early onset dementia and Alzheimer’s to an increased amount of volunteering throughout a person’s lifetime. A study referenced by PLOS ONE Journal found that, “Several scholars have found support for the notion that social, physical, and/or cognitive activity in later life is associated with a reduced risk of dementia. Across these studies, risks of dementia were reduced by 26% to 60%. Some scholars even suggested that the interplay between social, physical, and cognitive activity—such as characterized in voluntary work—is most beneficial in reducing memory impairment and dementia risk in later life.”
Improves your Health
The benefits that volunteering has on the mental and physical health of seniors doesn’t stop there. Volunteering also helps alleviate the pain of certain common struggles that older adults go through such as depression, anxiety, and loneliness. The benefits of volunteerism are so tailored to seniors, in fact, that the Corporation for National and Community Service also notes that, “Older volunteers are most likely to receive greater health benefits from volunteering.”
Makes You Feel Good
Finally, and most simply, it just makes you feel good to help out your community. Boomers undoubtedly value that feeling very highly as made evident by the Huffington Post, who recently found that, “Boomers spent about 3.6 million hours volunteering for organizations or causes they are passionate about.” Volunteering helps trigger feelings of euphoria for older adults. A survey commissioned by UnitedHealth Group found that among over 3,000 adults, the overwhelming majority reported feeling mentally and physically better after a volunteer experience.
It is good for more than just the world around you when you take the initiative to volunteer your time. The mental and physical health benefits that come along with it, especially for citizens over the age of 65, are invaluable perks that come with volunteering. At Poet’s Walk, A Spring Hills Memory Care Community, we offer opportunities on a regular basis for our residents to fulfill that need to help others. Paying it forward truly does pay off.