As we age, staying active and involved socially can seem like a daunting task. Unfortunately, social isolation is a common source of depression and loneliness amongst seniors. It can also create risk for physical issues such as cardiovascular disease and dementia, as well as exacerbate symptoms of chronic illnesses like arthritis. Luckily, the solutions for this are surprisingly easy. Community involvement is one way to stay socially replenished and gain a newfound sense of importance in your town or city.
Volunteering is maybe the best way to get involved with your community. As a result of volunteering, seniors can see a massive uptick in their emotional and physical wellbeing, and even experience increased longevity according to research done by Americorps. First, let’s take a look at how exactly volunteering can assist in your physical and mental wellbeing.
Wondering how you can get back into the social scene at an older age? Well, it’s never too late to make friends and what better way than in a capacity that benefits your community. Loneliness in old age can be responsible for a variety of health issues, but most commonly depression, which in it of itself has a multitude of adverse effects. So, consider getting out to volunteer at places such as religious institutions, parks, or museums in order to interact with a wide range of people in your community and to form strong friendships.
Yes, even your brain needs to be worked out. I know I know, between Netflix, Hulu and HBO Max, who needs to use their brains for anything other than absorbing entertainment? But trust me, you’ll regret if you don’t. Without keeping your brain active, you risk the chance of developing cognitive issues, memory loss, and motor function diseases. Through volunteering, you force yourself to think and converse with others and practice physical movements that favor cognition, as well as open your brain to a variety of stimuli. If the volunteering you participate in involves physical engagement, this will host a slew of physical health benefits in addition to mental improvement.
How incredible is it that doing things to improve your health can also improve the health of your community? And who has more to give back than those who have experienced the trials and tribulations of life? Whether its volunteering at a food bank to provide nourishment for the needy or passing down years and years of knowledge to those working at a nonprofit, the insights and efforts of our seniors can be more valuable than their younger counterparts much of the time – and younger folks especially are in need of guidance and wisdom from those above them. Even if it’s just volunteering at a youth camp for a day, the teachings and stories from your life can help mentor and change young people’s perspectives on life.
In the tides of life, sometimes the things we dreamt of doing can get swept away. Volunteering is the perfect opportunity to engage in areas you’ve always been interested in. Have always loved nature and been interested in studying the behaviors and anatomy of the animals that live within? Volunteer at the local nature center and learn about it! The opportunities are endless.
Using That Free Time
Yes, retirement! Wait, what now? A fairy isn’t going to descend from the heavens and give you a daily schedule of fun activities to do. Many times retirement can leave us wondering how we can possibly use all this free time. Volunteering is a great way to get out of the house a couple times a week and increase social engagements. Not only can you do it on your own time, but where work engagements forced you to get out of bed all those years prior, now volunteering can give you a kickstart to the day.
So in short, yes, volunteering can be hugely beneficial in many ways. Let’s take a look at some of the different ways you can get involved.
- Helping feed the hungry and running local food drives.
- Fundraising or selling items to raise money.
- Engaging in general labor, like helping build homes or cleaning up parks.
- Tutoring or teaching.
- Mentoring the youth.
- Collecting, making, or distributing clothing for those in need.
- Assisting a local politician.
- Becoming a mentor at a community youth center.
- Traveling with an international volunteering service.
- Getting involved with tax season.
- Hand writing thank you notes for charity.
- Reading to children at the library.
- Volunteering at a church.
Organizations that you can use to help get involved include:
- Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America
- Boys and Girls Club of America
- Senior Corps
- Habitat for Humanity
- Junior Achievement
- Big Brothers and Big Sisters
- Peace Corps
- Continuing Care Retirement Community
Think about getting involved through some of the above activities or organizations and see how you could affect the communities around you!