Senior Volunteer Programs and Opportunities
Volunteering is rewarding no matter your age. It gives a sense of accomplishment and allows you to help others. Volunteering also gives seniors the chance to meet people, make new friends and combat any risk of senior isolation. The amount of time spent volunteering can vary and is completely up to each person--whether weekly, daily or monthly.
Volunteerism isn’t just beneficial for those being helped, it also has mental and physical benefits for those doing the helping. Research shows that older adults who volunteer and engage in more hours of volunteering report higher levels of well-being.
Why Seniors Should Volunteer
1. Prevent senior isolation. Volunteering gives seniors a sense of purpose and accomplishment as well as getting them out of their homes. It allows seniors to experience greater life satisfaction by encouraging them to meet new people and make new friends.
2. Promote physical activity. Volunteering is a good way to build physical activity into your senior loved one’s daily routine. It doesn’t mean they have to do something overly physically exertive, but maintaining physical fitness as we age helps keep away disease and injury.
3. Bridge the generation gap. Seniors have the opportunity to work with the younger generation during volunteering. This experience fosters understanding between the generations and can help build new friendships
4. Mental health benefits. Helping others keeps the brain and body active, which can improve cognitive health. Volunteering also lowers the risk of health issues such as dementia and can improve longevity.
You don’t have to look too far or too hard to find a specific cause that is of interest. Here are some ideas for volunteering that you or your senior loved one might enjoy:
• Senior Corps offers people ages 55+ the opportunity to connect with people and organizations that desperately need their help and assistance. Senior Corps offers a variety of different programs so that seniors can find the right fit for them.
• Senior Companions is a unique program where one senior helps another senior who is in need of extra assistance with day-to-day tasks or simply wants companionship.
• RSVP. Seniors are able to use the skills and talents they have learned throughout their lives while they participate in environmental projects, mentor and tutor children, assist in natural disaster situations and many more activities.
• Foster Grandparents is a program where seniors are role models, mentors, and friends to children with exceptional needs.
• Mentor students online. This is great way to stay mentally active if you or your senior loved one is not in a position to leave their home. The goal of e-mentoring is to help students stay in school and senior volunteers can help tutor them throughout.
• VolunteerMatch.org is a national program, servicing people of all ages, but is a great resource if you want to search for something more specific in an area that you have an interest in volunteering.
If you still want to look elsewhere for a better volunteer match, you don’t have to look for a specific senior-friendly program to make a volunteer experience meaningful. There are plenty of resources out there. Ensuring that your senior loved one has a sense of purpose and a way to get out into the world is key to helping them lead a happy and healthy life.