When you volunteer, you discover that the most important things you have to offer are not things at all. As a result, you begin to realize that your time, presence and attention are great resources. Undoubtedly, seniors make up a large percentage of volunteers and are a staple to community groups and organizations. With this in mind, seniors should participate in service geared towards their individual abilities and interests.
Here are four benefits of volunteering for seniors:
1. Reduce loneliness
The McMaster Optimal Aging Portal reports that up to 15 percent of the Western population lives with feelings of loneliness. It also states that over 30 percent of older adults in Canada are at high risk of loneliness. To be clear, being alone shouldn’t necessarily be confused with loneliness. For example, many people enjoy being alone and live healthy, happy lives.
According to Aging in Canada’s focus group series, Seniors Speak out About Loneliness, loneliness is partly about numbers of friends or people in a person’s life, but it’s also about whether or not you feel connected to people.
Looking for a simple way to reverse this? Volunteer!
Volunteering and joining community groups can help older adults meet new people with similar interests and values which may lead to new friendships or help rekindle old ones.
2. Gain a sense of self and purpose
After retirement, it may be difficult for seniors to feel purposeful and connected to the community. However, volunteering can lead to a sense of accomplishment and belonging. Aside from that, there are many organizations and groups that cater to specific interests and values. Seniors can add value to charity groups and organizations with their wealth of experiences and insights.
Many people may argue they don’t have the time or energy to participate, yet studies show that volunteering for as little as one hour a week can result in cognitive and emotional benefits.
All of these factors combined lead to increased self-esteem and overall wellness as a result of volunteering.
3. Develop new skills
There are many ways for seniors to become involved in their community. It’s never too late to learn something new and step outside your comfort zone. Whether living at home or at a retirement residence, here are a few ways to get involved:
- Make a survival kit for teachers and take to local schools
- Sponsor a local family in need
- Post inspirational sticky notes around your neighborhood
- Donate old towels or blankets to an animal shelter
- Surprise a neighbor with freshly baked cookies or treats
4. Reduce the risk of dementia
A study conducted by a University of Calgary psychology professor found that people who did volunteer work for at least one hour a week on a regular basis were 2.44 times less likely to develop dementia than the seniors who didn’t volunteer.
The study also says that the volunteer activity has to benefit others who are not your core family. For example, helping out a church, a school, a library a homeless shelter or some sort of charity organization.
How residents at Seasons are giving back
To help residents stay connected to the community and realize the benefits of volunteering, Seasons Retirement Communities launched its newest signature program, Seniorosity™ in June 2018.
Earlier this year, Seasons hosted a contest to name this important program. The winner was Marcella Blanchard, Fun Manager at Seasons Welland, who suggested Seniorosity™ a combination of the words Seniors and Generosity.
“Seniorosity™ is designed to provide opportunities for our residents to connect with people in the greater community,” says Kim Mitchell, Director of Fun, Seasons Retirement Communities. “Seniors can participate in service that is geared towards their individual abilities and interests. The goal is to get to know the community, build friendships, provide meaning for our residents and increase feelings of happiness.”
Check out our Facebook page to see how Seasons residents are participating in Seniorosity™! Looking to connect with a Seasons Retirement Community near you? Visit our locations page for contact information, we’d love to hear from you!