Volunteering is important for good health and happiness
This is a guest contribution from my friend and colleague, Tim Murray, president and co-founder, 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.
For the elderly, who often see the number of family and friends diminish as the years go by, staying connected is actually just as important as physical exercise in terms of mortality rates. By volunteering their time and services, they receive the gift of purpose and the opportunity to widen their social circle while those in need are supported for relatively low costs, a win-win for them and for their community.
Sometimes, seniors tell us they’re hesitant to volunteer because they don’t know where to begin, or 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, including some that specifically cater to seniors, who are in need of volunteers in important activities in a number of different areas. This could include:
≤ Organizing neighborhood watch programs;
≤ Tutoring and mentoring disadvantaged or disabled youth;
≤ Renovating homes;
≤ Teaching English to immigrants;
≤ Assisting victims of natural disasters.
Senior centers are such a wonderful resource to the community, offering all kinds of classes, activities, social events and sports for seniors 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 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 20s and even a member who is 92 (talk about inspiring!). We do a number of projects together, from painting and landscaping to fundraising.
Local volunteer opportunities provide a way for seniors to reconnect with others and to feel invested in their community, and the work is rewarding. 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. Visit awareseniorcare.com