Perhaps, the biggest benefit of volunteering is the satisfaction of making a difference in the community. The intangible benefits alone—such as pride, satisfaction, and accomplishment—are reason enough to volunteer, but…
Studies have shown that older Americans who volunteer frequently live longer and report less disability, and there is study evidence to prove it. That’s good to know, isn’t it? We all want to be healthy and happy. Volunteering is a beneficial method to stay that way! Volunteerism offers many other rewards, too.
One study of Americans over age 60 showed that those who volunteer reported higher levels of well-being relative to non-volunteers. The effects of volunteering were found to be greater than other factors such as income, education level, or marriage (Morrow-Howell et al., 2003). It appears from initial evidence that the health benefits of volunteering are due to the increased physical, social, and mental activity resulting from being a volunteer.
Volunteering also helps with grief. Bereaved individuals volunteering in activities that assisted others experienced a shorter course of depression. Volunteerism provides a sense of purpose that can help with issues about no longer working. Other studies have shown that volunteers experience increased brain activity and preservation of cognitive function. Volunteers show lower rates of depression as well. In a study by Carnegie Mellon University, adults over 50 volunteering regularly were less likely to develop high blood pressure than those who didn’t volunteer. Of course, high blood pressure can contribute to heart disease, stroke, and premature death. Many people find volunteerism helps with stress reduction. In fact, comparisons of the health benefits of volunteering for different age groups have shown older volunteers are likely to receive greater benefits.
Older Americans can meet critical community needs while supporting an active lifestyle. As has been repeatedly proven, physical activity is a key factor in aging well. Regular exercise and physical activity are important to physical and mental health. Being physically active can help you continue to do the things you enjoy and stay independent. Some volunteer opportunities offer physical exercise.
Volunteering is not only about the local community. It is a national service. The President has called on all Americans to include volunteerism and community service in their daily lives. Volunteers are important.
How much time is involved? Some studies show a health benefit from as little as 100 hours of volunteering per year.
When you share your time and talents, you improve lives, connect with others and transform your own life. Combine these worthwhile reasons to volunteer with the physical and mental health benefits, and you have a no-lose situation, or maybe that would be better said as a win-win situation.
Would you like to make a difference to a senior citizen? Want to get more than you give? The Senior Citizens Bureau always needs volunteers to assist seniors and caregivers experiencing problems or simply needing an answer to a question about Medicare, for instance. Many of our volunteers are seniors themselves. Our volunteers can chat live, share stories and accomplishments, ask for advice, and much more. Click on the Community tab and start making new friends, helping others—and reaping the health benefits of volunteering—today!
Studies have proven the mental and physical health benefits of volunteering for older Americans, including levels of well being, lower rates of depression, and stress reduction, so volunteer with the Senior Citizens Bureau today and start reaping all the benefits, including a healthier you!
About the Senior Citizens Bureau
The Senior Citizens Bureau (SCB) was found in 1998 and is a national, non-profit community resource for the elderly, children of the elderly and other caregivers, advocates and professionals.