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Want to Feel Happy and Healthy? Why Seniors Should Volunteer

why seniors should volunteer

Want to Feel Happy and Healthy? Why Seniors Should Volunteer

Photo: Tim's mother Emily volunteering her time to price books at Dorcas Ministries in Cary, NC.

This article was originally published on SeniorCare.com

By Tim Murray, President of Aware Senior Care

It's no secret that we get a little something back when we give generously to others. Of course, we don't volunteer because of what it does for us, but research shows that volunteering has great health benefits, including decreasing anxiety, depression, loneliness, and social isolation.

Local volunteer opportunities provide a way for seniors to reconnect with others and to feel invested in their community, and the work is rewarding.

The elderly see the number of family and friends diminish as the years go by. Staying connected is actually just as important as physical activity  in terms of mortality rates. By spending time volunteering their time and services, they rediscover their sense of purpose. It’s an excellent opportunity to widen their social circle. Those in need are supported for relatively low costs. Just a few hours a week is a win-win for them and for their community. Volunteer experience has a positive effect on everyone.

Sometimes, seniors tell us they're hesitant to do volunteer activity. They don't know where to begin. They're not sure if they can participate due to physical limitations. In fact, there's a range of volunteer opportunities available to seniors in almost every community. You just need to know where to look!

A local chamber of commerce is a great place to start when looking for volunteer opportunities. They will likely have partner organizations. Many specifically cater to senior volunteers and need help with important activities in a number of different areas. This could include:

o Organizing neighborhood watch programs
o Tutoring and mentoring disadvantaged or disabled youth
o Renovating homes
o Teaching English to immigrants
o Assisting victims of natural disasters

Senior centers are such a wonderful resource to the community. They offer all kinds of classes, activities, social events, and sports for older adults to get involved. They are always looking for volunteers to help with events and programming. You may even find yourself using your special skills to teach a class or two.

Religious and faith organizations help local neighbors. Check out organizations in your neighborhood or senior living community. They are almost always run by a group of hard-working volunteers, and there's always more work to be done. They'd welcome your offer of help with open arms! 

Rotary clubs have a philosophy, "Service above self." I admire the people and the philanthropic volunteer work they do. The Rotary knows no age boundaries. In my local chapter, we have members who are in their twenties and even a member who is 92 (talk about inspiring!). We do a number of projects together, from painting and landscaping to fundraising.

Animal Shelters such as Helping Paws offer Senior to Senior pet adoption programs. Older Animals often need a less stressful and quiet environment in their later years. The elderly make excellent companions in that regard. Pets make great company! They give comfort to those grieving and reduce depression in their human counterparts.

Use the warm weather as the time to lace up those sneakers, walk around your neighborhood, and find ways you can offer a helping hand this year.

Tim Murray is the President and Co-Founder of Aware Senior Care in Cary, North Carolina. Aware Senior Care provides award-winning, in-home companion care, personal care, and nursing services to seniors and those who are disabled or chronically ill. Aware Senior Care is a veteran-owned business. 

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