Volunteering Helps Seniors Improve Mental Health

Nov 20, 2019

Many of us have volunteered at some point in our lives. Giving back doesn’t just have a positive impact on the community. It also benefits us as individuals.

Seniors can especially find advantages in volunteer activities. Volunteering can help older adults improve mental health and overall wellness while using their time and talents for good. 

Ways volunteering improves mental health in seniors

If you are a senior who wants to feel better and improve your health, we strongly suggest considering volunteering.

Joining a volunteer group can increase your wellness and provide you with new experiences. Plus, it’s a lot of fun! 

Here are eight ways that volunteering helps seniors improve mental health.

Volunteering can prevent isolation

Social isolation can have devastating effects on aging adults. By getting out into the community, volunteers can prevent feeling alone.

Since people count on the work of volunteers, those who give back gain a sense of purpose and responsibility. Volunteering also encourages socialization and fostering friendships. Adults over age 60 who volunteer report higher levels of wellbeing and lower disability than those who do not volunteer.

It improves intergenerational relationships

Many high school and college students are encouraged to volunteer in their communities to improve their resumes and applications. Seniors who volunteer can engage with a younger generation, even if the work they do doesn’t serve young people. 

Intergenerational experiences can create lasting friendships through shared experiences. Volunteering with younger people provides new insights and the opportunity for seniors to share their wisdom and experiences.

Volunteering keeps seniors active

No matter what kind of volunteer work you do, the activities you engage in help you stay physically active. When you are physically active, your mental health improves. Staying active through volunteering also helps seniors prevent injuries and diseases.

It could help prevent dementia

Alzheimer’s Disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. While there still is no cure, preventative measures can help seniors avoid dementia and its symptoms. According to The National Institute on Aging, participating in meaningful social activities like volunteering can improve longevity, mental health, and reduce the risk of dementia. 

Volunteering reduces stress

With getting older comes stressful situations. A person might worry about finances, find themselves taking care of grandchildren, health issues, or having to move into a new home. 

Volunteering offers meaningful connections that can take your mind off worries. Giving our time and efforts for others help us feel satisfied, which results in a better mood and less stress.

Volunteering increases confidence

Volunteering often requires us to learn something new. Gaining new skills in an unfamiliar environment can provide positive experiences that we otherwise would not have. Growing your skillset to help others can result in a sense of pride and identity. These positive feelings can lead to a better view of yourself.

It gives seniors a sense of purpose

If you have recently retired or become an empty nester, you might be having a hard time finding purpose. Volunteering can give a sense of meaning and fulfillment. The tasks you do as a volunteer can put things into perspective and help you be compassionate towards others while learning new perspectives.

Volunteering makes you happy

Did you know that participating in volunteer activities can spike brain activity and feel-good hormones? Impacting your community and contributing to the greater good, in turn, helps you feel better about the world and yourself. 

As you can see, volunteering offers many benefits to a senior’s mental wellness. No matter where you live or what you are passionate about, chances are you can find a volunteer activity in your community. 

Local organizations are always looking for help. Check with community-based organizations, churches, or your community senior center for opportunities. 

You can also join volunteer groups like the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program to help you find activities that match your interests and availability. No matter how you decided to volunteer, giving back to others is a great way for seniors to improve wellness.