Question: I am recently retired, in excellent health and full of energy. When I mentioned the possibility of doing some volunteering, one friend was surprised, saying, “You’ve given so much to your family and career. You should do something for you!” What’s your reaction?
Answer: That’s a great option. Volunteering does a lot for the volunteer.
In a recent article, the Mayo Clinic touted three benefits to volunteering:
1. Boosts physical and mental health
People who volunteer report better physical health than their peers who don’t volunteer and this act of service lowers rates of depression and anxiety, especially for those 65 and older. Studies show volunteering decreases stress and boosts positive, relaxed feelings, prompting the body to release dopamine, a brain chemical triggering a sense of pleasure and reward. Volunteers report experiencing a deeper meaning and appreciation of life. In addition, this stress-busting activity cuts the risk of heart disease, stroke, and depression. One study of aging found that, over time, volunteers have lower death rates than those who do not volunteer, even when considering factors such as age, gender, and overall physical health.
2. Gives a sense of purpose and teaches useful skills
Volunteering provides a sense of purpose, especially when people volunteer for an organization they believe to be personally meaningful. You may use skills you developed during your career or pick up new knowledge about the latest technology, communications, or business practices.
At AgeSpan, we have volunteer openings for home-delivered meals drivers, and in our Long-Term Care Ombudsman, Money Management, and Senior Medicare Patrol programs.
3. Nurtures new and existing relationships
Participating in a shared activity is one of the best ways to make new friends and strengthen your existing relationships. Volunteering helps you practice your social skills with others. On a volunteer job, you don’t need to break the ice to get to know your colleagues because you immediately become part of a team, working toward a common goal.
Wherever you offer your time and talent, I wish you the very best and thank you for wanting to make a difference in our community.
To learn more about volunteering at AgeSpan, please visit https://agespan.org/support-us/ or call 800-892-0890.