Volunteering at any age is a rewarding experience – it simply feels good to help others and give back – and, in turn, our communities are stronger for it. The emotional, mental and physical benefits of volunteering are far-reaching, and a growing body of research indicates this is especially true for seniors.
Benefits of Volunteering for Seniors
According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, Americans over the age of 60 who volunteer report a lower incidence of anxiety, depression and loneliness, as well as improved physical and mental health and higher life satisfaction.
Prevents Senior Isolation & Depression
With retirement comes more freedom to do the things we enjoy, but for some seniors it can also mean losing a sense of accomplishment and withdrawing from others. Volunteering can help renew that sense of purpose by allowing seniors to feel needed and relied upon in their community, thereby decreasing the likelihood of depression and encouraging social engagement and new friendships.
Promotes Physical Activity
Routine physical activity and exercise are key in the prevention and treatment of functional decline and frailty, and yet, as we age, we tend to become more sedentary. Volunteering keeps seniors physically active for longer – whether building homes with Habitat for Humanity or helping out a local food bank. Physical activity not only helps prevent injury and weight gain, it has also been associated with a reduced risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and some cancers.
Contributes to Cognitive Health
As we age, it is increasingly important to keep our brains active and stimulated to prevent cognitive decline. Our brain, like our muscles and joints, needs to be used and challenged to maintain its health. Volunteering is a form of exercise for our brains. In fact, the National Institute of Aging reports that participating in meaningful social activities, such as volunteering, may actually reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.
Volunteer Opportunities for Capital Region Seniors
Several residents at the Glen Eddy independent senior living community in Niskayuna volunteer to ride in the Niska-day parade, giving out candy to those along the route. Residents also help out at the local food bank and work at the library book sale.
Seniors at both the Glen Eddy and the Eddy Hawthorne Ridge independent senior living community in East Greenbush volunteer at the New York State Museum, and many residents give back by working at local churches, or crocheting hats and blankets for babies in area hospitals. The Albany International Airport and the Samaritan Hospital in Troy also offer volunteer opportunities for Eddy Hawthorne Ridge seniors.
In our Queensbury senior living community, The Glen at Hiland Meadows, seniors volunteer as docents at the Chapman and Hyde Museums in Glens Falls. Other residents donate their time knitting for the Bear Hugs program and the maternity ward at Glens Falls Hospital.
The Beverwyck senior living community in Slingerlands provides residents with a unique opportunity to volunteer on campus at The Terrace enriched housing & assisted living community and the Eddy Village Green skilled nursing facility. Residents also volunteer with ARC, the Albany Symphony Orchestra, and Double H Ranch, as well as area hospitals, churches and synagogues.
Seniors at Beechwood independent senior living community in Troy volunteer at the onsite gift shop, as well as the Troy Music Hall and Samaritan Hospital.