People want to spend their golden years doing meaningful things, which sometimes means helping others in need. Volunteering and serving in the community seem like one-way streets: They give their time and energy but don’t get anything out of it in return. However, by volunteering, you can find fulfillment in your daily activities and improve your physical and mental health, build new relationships with others, and even add to your retirement funds. Here are the top ways you can benefit from giving back to the community.
If you want to interact with people who are just as invested in society as you are, volunteering your time is a great way to meet people and help others. Even golden-age adults —people who have worked hard their entire lives—need help once they retire. Volunteering can also allow you to feel like part of a group again.
Socializing with other people is a great way to help prevent cognitive decline and mental deterioration. Research has shown that golden-age adults who socialize and volunteer tend to have more positive outlooks on life and overall health. So, while you may think helping others will benefit them, it can help keep you focused and on track too! On top of that, giving back can be highly fulfilling—giving your time and energy to others can remind you how lucky you are. Volunteering your time at a local charity is something everyone should consider doing in their lives—no matter what age they are!
Give generously, and you’ll reap numerous health benefits. According to research by AARP, older adults who volunteer for civic organizations, religious groups, or nonprofit organizations are more likely to be highly engaged in their communities. Social engagement can reduce rates of depression, improve sleep quality, and enhance social interaction, all of which are conducive to good mental health. Social engagement can also help prevent cognitive decline because it boosts blood flow to certain parts of your brain—the frontal lobe and hippocampus—which are associated with learning new skills and memory function. Studies show that retirees who volunteer have higher levels of good cholesterol than those who don’t volunteer.
It’s Good for Mental Health
Participating in charitable activities can keep people in their golden years mentally sharp. A study from Oregon State University found that those who engage in volunteer work, such as charity work and religious groups, score higher on cognitive function tests than those who don’t participate. That doesn’t mean you need to join a charity specifically for the elderly (though many do exist); there are plenty of charitable organizations and opportunities available across all age groups. Even something as simple as giving out candy at Halloween or helping put up decorations around town can give you a sense of fulfillment by doing something good for others.
Helps Prevent Senior Isolation and Depression
When a person in their golden years volunteers or gives back to their community, they benefit from a feeling of satisfaction and belonging. It also helps prevent senior isolation and depression by allowing them to have meaningful connections with other people. They can also develop a sense of purpose by participating in charitable work, which may give them something positive to focus on during times of adversity.