Everyone needs to be needed and know they make a difference to others in this world. Our older population has a strong sense of values and one thing they cherish highly is being useful and doing good for others. You can see it in every town across the nation. Some are teaching people both young and old to read. Some are aiding the police force by patrolling our streets. Many give their service at hospitals and nursing homes. Grandchildren are being cared for by millions of elders. These are just a few ways that our seniors are helping others without expecting anything in return. Guess what? It’s good for us and it’s good for them.
So how does a job that doesn’t pay anything end up being good for us?
Volunteering Gives Us a Sense of Purpose
How many times have we heard of someone dying not long after retirement? All of us need purpose in our lives and for those who have worked most of their lives the routine of getting out and doing something productive is a strong motivation for taking care of themselves and feeling good about themselves.
Volunteering Keeps Us Connected to Others
Isolation can be a killer, especially for older people. Our interactions with others keep our minds sharper and stimulate us in so many ways. People need people. It’s just that simple. Even for those who have limited mobility, there are still ways to volunteer and stay connected. Many seniors do daily phone checks on disabled people to make sure they are safe and well. Some older people watch children after school. Ask a working mom how valuable that is! However we help others, it keeps us connected to the world around us. That is very good for our mental and physical health.
Checks and Balances
By getting out and caring for others it gives others a chance to keep a watchful eye on us. Friends and co-workers have a front seat to how we are doing both mentally and physically. Even if we don’t see a problem, they will. People who care about you will throw up the red flag when they see something going wrong.
Volunteering Strengthens Our World
The value of older people giving to our communities cannot be calculated. Just think about some of the work they do in our communities:
They help at:
- Senior centers
- Homes of the disabled
- Food banks
- Women’s shelters
- Polling places
- Clothes closets – just to name a few!
According to Harry R. Moody’s book on aging, our senior volunteers give themselves to the equivalent of 12 million full time jobs! (Aging Concepts and Controversies, 2006) Moody also said that volunteers have a greater satisfaction with life and have a higher economic and health status.
So find your passion today and volunteer to help others. It will enrich your life in so many ways!
For more information about volunteering, check out Corporation for National and Community Service.