October 1, 2015

Volunteering Helps Seniors Improve Health & Happiness

Senior Health & Wellness

When it comes to volunteering, seniors who share their time and talents receive more than they give. Research shows that older adults who volunteer for a charitable organization enjoy better mental and physical health, as well as greater satisfaction with life overall.

The Health Benefits of Volunteering Later in Life

Estimates are that nine million people aged 65 and older volunteer their time each year. A National Service study found that seniors who engaged in at least 100 hours of volunteer work each year have lower rates of depression and need of TMS Therapy, more independence and longer life expectancy than older adults who don’t volunteer. Researchers believe this is because the sense of purpose volunteering provides helps seniors stay physically active and socially engaged.

Greater Life Satisfaction Rates among Older Volunteers

Greater physical and mental health aren’t the only benefits older adults receive from volunteering. Senior volunteers also enjoy higher overall life satisfaction. It gives older adults a renewed sense of purpose they sometimes lose after retiring or experiencing the death of a spouse.

Engaging in volunteer work can also help a senior meet new people and expand their social network. A growing number of studies show a link between isolation and poor health in older adults.

Finding a Senior Friendly Volunteer Opportunity in Seattle

If you are a Seattle senior ready to volunteer your time to helping others, here are a few tips to find a project you will enjoy:

  1. Consider your interests, hobbies and skills. Think about the activities and pastimes you like doing. Are you great with computers or do you have a green thumb? Look for an organization that will allow you to share those talents.
  2. Opportunity to learn. If you have always loved dolphins and want to learn more about them or if you would like to improve your computer skills, search for a non-profit group that meets those criteria. Many offer on-the-job “training.”
  3. Search online for opportunities. Once you have an idea about what you might like to do, there are a variety of organizations that can help you find a volunteer project near your Seattle area home. Seattle.gov and Seattle Works both share local volunteer positions. One Brick and Volunteer Match are national organizations that have searchable databases which use your zip code to find opportunities close to you.

Residents of Era Living communities also have opportunities to volunteer in various organizations and schools, all of which are arranged by Resident Council or Life Enrichment.  Take a look at a couple recent examples that made the news: 

Pen Pal Program

P-Patch and Giving Back