4 reasons why volunteering is great for older people
By Lucy Wyndham
If you are a mature adult and find that you have some free time at hand, perhaps it’s worth consider volunteering – which offers you a chance to do something meaningful that will not only help others, but bestow you with a sense of achievement and goodwill.
The voluntary sector is always in need of an extra pair of hands to do many different activities from teaching, through to care giving.
Whether you are thinking of pitching in for a few hours or committing to a full time project, volunteering offers enormous benefits that extend beyond feeling great for donating your time to a good cause.
#1: Productive Engagement
The obvious benefit of volunteering is the sense of purpose it gives you.
Retirement brings with it plenty of time for well earned relaxation. If you’ve had a busy schedule then suddenly find yourself with nothing to do – the extra time on your hands can become a source of stress as well.
When you give up your time for charity, you are doing something productive that not only benefits you but also the community and the voluntary organisations.
#2: Volunteering reduces social isolation
Without the structure of work, the social life of elderly people is also affected. Gone are the days when you go for after office drinks or parties. Instead, older adults have more time for themselves staying often inside their homes.
Lack of social contact has detrimental effects on your wellbeing that can even lead to depression and low self-esteem. With volunteer work, structure comes back again depending on the number of hours you commit and the type of activity that you have signed up for.
Seniors get out of the house more often, meet new people and interact with others which is positive for the mental health. A 2006 study revealed that volunteers had lower rates of depression and better quality of life than non-volunteers.
#3: Volunteering is physically healthy
The act of moving or getting out of the house is a physical movement. Physical activity is important no matter what the season is and regardless of age. Hence, whether you are volunteering at a soup kitchen or a sports camp, you will get some sort of exercise by traveling or moving from one place to another. Donating your time keeps you active, benefits body functioning and improves physical health. For aging adults, exercise and physical movement are indispensable to prevent or delay the onset of diseases and to improve the health.
#4: Making voluntary work meaningful: Organisations need to support Volunteers
Organisation support for volunteers is also essential for success. Older people who are given training and support perform better in an organisation, helping them achieve social and emotional benefits derived from volunteering. Flexibility or being able to choose their hours and type of work also contribute to greater personal satisfaction while volunteering.
On an emotional, physical and social plane, volunteering is beneficial for the geriatric population. Support from organisations where you give your time is also vital because if you are adequately prepared for your role, you are going to be more effective and efficient increasing personal satisfaction and productivity.