One of the most common fears older adults face as they transition out of the workforce and into their retirement years is losing their sense of purpose. This makes perfect sense when you consider that some of us spend our adult lives working jobs we love. So it’s only natural that some people experience feelings of aimlessness and isolation in retirement. The good news? It doesn’t have to be this way! In this post we’ll show you how to volunteer your way out of a retirement slump – and reap several surprising health benefits in the process.

Benefits of Volunteering for Seniors

If you’re wondering how something as simple as volunteering at a soup kitchen or picking up trash at a local park can improve your health and wellness, you aren’t alone. The connection isn’t exactly obvious, but research shows it’s absolutely real. In fact, according to an article published by the Cleveland Clinic, the benefits of volunteering can include lower blood pressure, increased self-esteem, less depression and stress, increased happiness and even a longer life!

Let’s explore.

  1. How Volunteering Boosts Your Self Esteem: When you volunteer for others, you can more easily see a direct connection between your efforts and the impact they have on the people you’re helping. There’s nothing quite like an appreciative smile to show you that what you’re doing matters and that you are valued by others.  
  2. How Volunteering Reduces Depression and Stress: According to the Mayo Clinic, volunteering decreases the risk of depression – especially in adults 65 and older. Why? One theory suggests that volunteering increases our social interaction and strengthens bonds with like-minded individuals, both of which have been shown to decrease depression. Factor in the increased physical activity that comes along with some types of volunteer work, and you’ve got another depression-busting benefit of doing good for the people around you.
  3. How Volunteering Extends Your Life: Could it really be that those who volunteer have lower rates of mortality than those who don’t? As unlikely as it seems, that’s exactly what the Longitudinal Study of Aging found – even when adjusting for age, gender and physical health. What’s more, additional studies have shown that individuals with chronic health conditions experience a reduction in pain intensity when compared to peers who do not volunteer.

Learn More About Purposeful Living at Western Home Communities

At Western Home Communities it’s our mission to assertively create fulfilling lifestyles for the people who call us home. Want to volunteer here?   Call Carolyn Martin, our director of volunteer services, at 319.277.2141 or email her at carolyn.martin@westernhome.org.

If you’re interested in learning more about our senior living options, fill out our form or give us a call at 319.277.2141 today. We can help answer your questions so you can make a more informed decision about your retirement.