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12 Great Reasons to Become a Senior Volunteer

Many senior citizens who have spent most of their lives working wonder why they should become senior volunteers. Here are a few reasons why each and every American senior should consider becoming a retired volunteer!

1. Volunteerism is essential to the United States.

Especially during these times of financial crisis, the United States needs volunteers to continue thriving. Presidents have been calling for increased volunteerism since the 1930s, and in 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act did the same. The Act managed to mobilize more than 135,000 new volunteers in the past year alone, and these volunteers have managed to help a massive 1.1 MILLION people! Some of the most significant volunteerism includes providing skills training and counseling to more than 35,000 unemployed people of which 5,400 found jobs using the skills they learned from volunteers.

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2. The American work industry still needs seniors, now more than ever.

Despite how hard retired people have worked throughout their lives, communities still need active seniors! All volunteers make a difference, but experienced and knowledgeable seniors can make an even bigger difference by saving organizations money, money that be better use in other ways. Just imagine how many people could get jobs if more seniors volunteered to teach others what they have learned. Senior Corps program, RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program), is the nation’s largest seniors volunteer network and a great place for seniors to start sharing their skills.

3. Senior volunteers help bridge the generation gap.

Many young people volunteer with various organizations, so seniors who choose to do the same help to bridge the generation gap! The cultural differences between seniors and young people are huge and include topics like technology, workplace behavior, and political differences. Young people rarely have the opportunity to work with seniors, but when seniors collaborate with young people, there is reciprocal learning for everyone involved and therefore a better understanding of each other.

5. Senior volunteers can choose to do meaningful work.

Sadly, most of us aren’t truly vested in the work we do. We work because we have to, not because we love what we do. Volunteer opportunities are plentiful, so senior volunteers have the opportunity to choose work that they find important and exciting. In fact, the Corporation for National and Community Service, a national service program, reports that retired volunteers are more satisfied with their lives than people who continue to work for pay. Why? Because they have chosen to volunteer in ways that are meaningful to them.

6. Volunteering helps seniors maintain mental well-being.

Senior Corps, part of the Corporation for National and Community Service, offers an online journal as part of its program. According to a recent study, seniors who volunteers in social programs not only maintain good brain function, but their brain function and cognitive ability may actually increase. In short, becoming a retired volunteer can actually make a senior citizen smarter!

7. Becoming a retired volunteer helps seniors maintain physical health.

A UCLA study suggests that productive activities may actually slow down the aging process for seniors as well. Previous scientific studies have come to the same conclusions. However, this study specifically suggests that volunteering seems to generate the best results. Interestingly enough, volunteering is the only productive activity proven to help prevent frailty among seniors.

8. Volunteering helps seniors stay involved in their communities.

Many seniors spend most of their time at home where they are comfortable. In fact, a recent article in the L.A. Times states that seniors currently spend between half and three-quarters of their time awake watching television. This social isolation helps explain why so many seniors suffer from depression, an estimated 6 to 6.5 million aged 65 years and older. Senior volunteers spend less time at home and more time in their communities, which helps them increase their social and support networks.

9. Volunteering is rewarding.

Giving to others can help combat depression, because giving makes us feel vibrant, important, and satisfied. Even if a senior is not depressed, becoming a senior volunteer is a rewarding experience that reduces stress and increases happiness. The Corporation for National Community Service notes that many health benefits associated with volunteering are a result of the sense of accomplishment a senior volunteer feels when helping others.

10. Volunteering adds years to seniors’ lives.

The Corporation for National Community Service also reports that seniors who provide social support for others through volunteering had lower mortality rates than those who did not! The same national service program notes that states with higher volunteer rates among seniors generally have lower mortality rates, indicating again that volunteering can improve physical, mental, and emotional well-being for seniors.

11. Senior volunteers can work around their own schedules.

Even busy, active seniors can become volunteers. Most organizations offer flexible schedules, especially when it comes to valued senior volunteers.

12. Resources like senior programs make volunteering easy!

RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) provides a retired senior volunteer program for each state, so all seniors have the opportunity to find local programs. RSVP offers a variety of volunteer opportunities in thousands of organizations, and it proactively works with seniors to determine what organization is right for them. RSVP offers exceptional senior support by offering its members pre-service orientation, guaranteed training, and even supplemental insurance.

 Civic Ventures, another outstanding senior volunteer program, engages newly-retiring baby boomers in volunteer work. Civic Ventures is a great resource for seniors interested in solving social issues, as it focuses on social justice issues like education, the environment, healthcare, and the homeless. This particular national seniors association is host to a number of different programs. One of its many initiatives, The Next Chapter, is a national seniors association that offers local assistance in dozens of cities for seniors who want to make a difference. The Purpose Prize, another of The Next Chapter’s seniors programs, even awards $100,000 prizes to people over 60 who make extraordinary contributions. Yes, money is yet another incentive for seniors to volunteer!

VolunteerMatch is another superb national program, servicing people of all ages. While it’s not senior specific volunteer program, it specializes in helping seniors find organizations best suited for their volunteering needs and desires. More than 72,000 different organizations use this national service program to find volunteers, so all retired seniors can easily find an opportunity that works for them!