One of the best things about retirement is that you get to decide how you’ll fill your days. No more children to raise, no more 40 hour work weeks, and no more bosses dictating your daily schedule. However, some seniors can feel a bit bored, lost or depressed without a clear reason to get out of bed in the morning. Even for seniors who stay socially active with friends and family and enjoy plenty of hobbies and interests, it’s common to feel a loss of purpose and a sense that something is missing. If this sounds like you, why not consider volunteer work?
3 Benefits of Volunteering in Your Retirement Years
According to the Mayo Clinic, the benefits of volunteering can range from helping you live longer and forge new meaningful relationships with others, to boosting your self-esteem and reducing your stress levels. Best of all, research shows that volunteering as an older adult can be especially beneficial. Here’s a closer look at three of the most surprising benefits of volunteering.
1. Volunteering Can Lower Your Blood Pressure
This one may seem like a stretch until you consider that volunteering often comes with an increased level of physical activity. And, along with increased physical activity, comes reduced stress and blood pressure – both of which can have a dramatically positive impact on your overall health and wellbeing.
“Many people find volunteer work to be helpful with respect to stress reduction, and we know that stress is very strongly linked to health outcomes,” said Dr. Rodlescia Sneed, Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine, Division of Public Health in the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University. If you’re feeling stressed out, try donating your time or talents to an organization that helps others.
2. Volunteers Feel Happier and More Fulfilled
The brain’s feel-good hormones have been shown to spike when we’re doing something good for our fellow man. As we perform volunteer work, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins give us a boost, making us feel happy and connected to something bigger than ourselves. Volunteering can be an immeasurably rewarding and fulfilling experience, especially when you find a cause that you’re passionate about.
3. Volunteering Could Help You Live a Longer Life
It may sound too good to be true, but this health benefit of volunteering has been well-researched. According to the Longitudinal Studies of Aging by The Center for Disease Control, people who dedicate time to volunteering have lower mortality rates compared to individuals who do not. As a bonus, additional studies have also found that both depression and chronic pain can be reduced by giving back to the community.
Concordia’s Commitment to Service
At Concordia Life Care Community, we encourage a spirit of service and volunteerism. In fact, two of our independent living community residents, Clyde and Phyllis Buchanan, were recognized as LeadingAge Oklahoma’s volunteer residents of the year. The Buchanans spent more than 500 hours volunteering, and their efforts included singing with residents in our memory support program, hosting in the dining room and teaching an exercise class.
“The memory support residents who participate in our singalongs have brought Phyllis and me so much joy,” Clyde Buchanan said. “Volunteering for them, and for others, is an opportunity to brighten lives. We love to do it, and we are grateful to live in a community that supports us and fosters an environment of service.”