Give More to Get More — Volunteering Can Improve Your Health

In The News Apr 08, 2021

Volunteering doesn’t just have the benefits of helping others, it actually can be helpful to yourself.

A study published in BMC Public Health on Texan adults found that whether you are participating in other-oriented volunteering, altruistic and humanitarian centered, or self-oriented volunteering, self-enhancing and self-actualizing, both have significant positive health benefits.

The benefits of volunteering according to the study include mental and physical health, life satisfaction, social well-being, and depression prevention, though the degree of these effects can vary widely.

It is important to note that other-oriented volunteering tended to have the highest positive effects on social well-being considering it is often associated with interpersonal relationships, supportive networks, and a sense of purpose while self-oriented volunteering tended to have the most effects on physical health since it is most associated with physical, cultural, and career activities.

Thus no matter what type of volunteering you choose to do it can have great benefits on your health.

5 Ways Volunteering Impacts Your Health Positively

  1. Helps form supportive networks
  2. Provides a sense of purpose
  3. Highlights your skills and talents
  4. Keeps you mentally and physically active
  5. Helps prevents depression

With all these benefits it only makes sense to start searching for a volunteer opportunity near you if you don’t already have one!

10 Great Organizations for Older Adults to Volunteer With

  1. AmeriCorps Seniors is a national volunteer and service community open to adults 55 and older. This organization helps to foster social connections and drive community engagement. They offer a number of diverse opportunities to volunteer.
  2. Foster Grandparents Program seeks mentors for children and youth. These foster grandparents then volunteer on average 20 hours a week in schools, child care centers, hospitals, drug treatment centers, and correctional institutions or with COVID-19 through virtual tutoring programs.
  3. Senior Companions are volunteers who provide a break for caregivers to run errands and other necessary tasks. They then keep the dementia sufferer company so they can remain at home instead of in a nursing home. On average these volunteers work with two to four clients for 15 to 40 hours each week.
  4. RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) is a knowledge-sharing program where volunteers organize neighborhood watch programs, tutor and mentor youths, renovate homes and assist natural disaster victims.
  5. National Parks Service is always looking for volunteers. This is a great way to stay outdoors and get some fresh air. Positions can include leading tours, keeping the parks clean, and other park-related events. Sometimes the position even comes with some perks like free annual passes.
  6. Musicians On Call sends volunteer musicians to hospitals throughout the United States to perform in patients’ rooms as well as common spaces within the hospital where other patients and families can enjoy the performance. Performances may include vocal or instrumental performances or some combination of the two. Plus for those without musical gifts, but a love of music, they can volunteer to guide musicians around the hospital.
  7. Peace Corps actively seeks older volunteers depending on the type of volunteer work. These service projects can last from three months to two years and volunteers can choose the country and work they prefer to do. However, certain health conditions may make a person ineligible for the service.
  8. Habitat for Humanity — Has a specific program dedicated to its retired volunteers known as RV Care-A-Vanners program. This program allows anyone who travels by recreational vehicle to volunteer at different home-building sites during their travels. No experience necessary! Volunteers can help build and renovate homes, get trained to be Master Safety Trainers in order to train others on recent safety regulations, or join the desk staff and help with program management.
  9. Meals on Wheels helps to assure meals are delivered to homebound seniors across the country. Join to deliver the meals as a volunteer and provide friendly greetings.
  10. Alzheimer’s Association works with education, advocacy, and research on dementia. Volunteers can participate in any of these areas.
  11. Experience Corps is an intergenerational volunteer tutoring program run by AARP. Volunteers (50+) receive training and commit to about 15 hours of tutoring a week to help support youth in low-income areas.
  12. GetSetup is always looking for volunteers to host interest groups or participate in our other great Ambassador volunteer opportunities working with our community of passionate 50+ learners. Check out which one might be right for you.

Don’t see anything that is right for you here? Consider looking for options on sites that host a number of different and diverse opportunities including Volunteer Match, Indeed, or Catch A Fire.

If you have spare time consider using it to help others, boost your health, and form stronger bonds with your community!

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