As you enter your golden years, you may find yourself asking, “What’s next?” Volunteering is not only a way to get involved in your community – it’s also a great opportunity to expand your social circle, improve your health and support a good cause.
Having more newfound freedom can seem daunting at first, but giving back can help fill your time with rewarding experiences and activities. And it can have numerous health and wellness benefits!
April is National Volunteer Month, a time to show appreciation for volunteers, highlight the benefits of giving back and hopefully inspire others to take up a worthy cause as well.
While the people and organizations who rely on volunteers certainly benefit from the support, volunteers themselves have much to gain from these experiences. Research shows how important volunteering and giving back is for older adults’ mental and physical wellness. Living purposeful days gives people a sense of achievement at every age. Those feelings of connecting and giving back are linked to longer, healthier lives.
An estimated 9 million people age 65 and older volunteer their time each year. Seniors who volunteer at least 100 hours a year – that’s only eight to nine hours a month – show improved mental and physical health. Experts believe it’s because volunteering provides aging adults with a sense of purpose that translates to a more physically active and engaged lifestyle. Other benefits of volunteering include the following:
Volunteering increases your social interactions and helps you build a healthy support system. Social circles tend to get smaller as you age, and when that happens, isolation becomes a serious risk to your mental and physical well-being. Interacting with others and knowing you have people you can count on goes a long way toward living a happier life.
Whether you’re helping with a community event, gathering canned goods for a food drive, or being someone’s walking companion, the increase in physical activity can help lower blood pressure, lessen stress and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Staying mentally active and working toward goals can help improve cognitive health and lower the risk of memory loss as you age. The National Institute on Aging reports that maintaining mental acuity with meaningful, productive activities can lower your risk of cognitive decline and other health problems. The tasks you do as you volunteer can assist in keeping your mind sharp and resilient throughout your retirement years.
Choosing the right volunteer opportunity starts with reflecting on your skills and interests. Ask yourself these questions to help discover what type of volunteer work you might enjoy:
Don’t feel confined to working only with the skills you currently possess. Many volunteer opportunities offer training to anyone who is willing to help.
Think about who or what cause you want to donate your time to.
At Hawthorn Senior Living, giving back is part of our philosophy, and our residents and team members make it their mission to make a difference. Here’s what our residents have been up to lately. To learn more about our volunteer efforts, read our blog!
The residents at Mountain View Gardens in Sierra Vista, Arizona, recently hosted a food drive supporting their local community. It was a great success!
Many Hawthorn communities have shown appreciation to their local first responders and police departments. Residents at Williams Place in Davidson, North Carolina, invited members from the Davidson Police Department to the community. Residents, team members and police officers enjoyed each other’s company while playing rounds of cornhole.
Residents at Orchard Heights in Clermont, Florida, handcrafted and delivered a large sunflower wreath to their local police station, along with a jumbo thank-you card and personalized goodie bags.
At Hawthorn Senior Living, we make it a priority to connect our residents with meaningful volunteer opportunities. Whether you choose to give in big ways or small, giving back is vitally important to your overall wellness. The possibilities are endless to make a lasting impact and touch lives in ways you may not even be aware of. Visit SeniorLivingInStyle.com to explore options near you.