Age slows you down, but it doesn’t mean you need to stop and resign yourself to knitting, napping, and playing bingo for the rest of your days. If you have some energy left in your bones, you should get out there and devote some of your time to volunteering in your local community.
It offers numerous benefits, including:
It’s a Great Way to Connect with Others
You’ll meet lots of different people when you’re volunteering. There are youngsters looking to find themselves, older adults hoping to give a little something back, and people seeking company and activity. They all share one thing in common: they want to help people.
A little community work helps to bridge the gap between youngsters and seniors, and it will tell you more about your community and the people who live there. Broaden your horizons, learn more about your neighbors, and spend your time constructively.
It Promotes Physical Activity
It’s difficult for many seniors to get their recommended weekly exercise, which means they often slip into a rut, spending less and less time on their feet and suffering from sluggishness, fatigue, and a host of other ailments as a result.
Just thirty minutes of exercise 5 days a week is enough to improve your heart health and your mental health, potentially adding years onto your life. It’s a small ask for a big reward, and when you’re busy working tills, moving stock, collecting signatures, and walking dogs, you won’t even realize you’re exercising.
If you squeeze the occasional walk, swimming class, or yoga session into your week, you’ll surpass your recommended minimum exercise and reap even more benefits!
Of course, as with any form of exercise, it’s important not to overdo it, especially if you have mobility problems, high blood pressure, heart disease, and other health complaints.
It Can Improve your Mental Health
Social activities may slow down the rate of memory loss and cognitive decline in individuals suffering from the early stages of dementia. It’s not going to reverse the disorder, nothing will, but it can make it more tolerable.
General memory loss and cognitive problems are common among seniors, and regular volunteering can help with this, as well.
The act of keeping the mind busy, whether by talking, planning, or preparing, is partly the reason for this, but it goes much deeper than that. Volunteers will also benefit from the sense of satisfaction that comes from helping others.
This is particularly beneficial for people who were very active during their younger years and spent most of their days working. It’s hard for them to slow down and when they do, they are more prone to depression
It Helps to Prevent Loneliness
Many seniors feel lonely. They lose their friends, outlive their partners, and find that they have nothing to do all day but watch TV, read, and wallow in their solitude.
The older you get, the harder it is to make friends. You can’t meet them at school or work, and if you don’t have much of a social life, you won’t meet anyone new. When you volunteer, however, you’ll bump into people who are more than happy to spend some time with you and take some of those lonely feelings away.
You’ll be in Good Company
Activism and volunteering are not reserved for the young and able-bodied. Some of the most successful activists have continued their philanthropic efforts well into their later years, including:
- Doris Day: Until the day she died in 2019, Doris Day devoted her life to helping others and had a particular fondness for animals. When she was a teenager, her dog was killed, and it had a great effect on her mental health. It was a memory that stayed with her and led her toward a life of animal activism. She founded the Doris Day Animal Foundation and made countless donations to animal welfare charities.
- Maggie Kuhn: As the founder of the Gray Panthers, Kuhn fought against age discrimination throughout her senior years. The organization remains to this day and continues to advocate for social justice.
- Jane Goodall: An advocate for chimpanzees and other primates, UK-born Goodall turned 86 in 2020 and continues to be recognized for her efforts as a primatologist and anthropologist. She founded the Jane Goodall Institute in the 1970s and it currently has a reach that expands into over 25 countries around the world.
Of course, you don’t need to open charitable foundations or spend millions of dollars to make a difference. Every little bit helps, and that’s true whether you’re donating money, clothes, or time.