Health care professionals have always suspected that loneliness in seniors can cause health problems beyond depression. Newer research proves just how right they are. We now know social isolation increases a senior’s risk for a variety of serious health problems ranging from obesity and high blood pressure to diabetes. In fact, it’s even linked to a shorter life.
The good news is there are many ways older adults can stay active and engaged with life. One of them is by volunteering their time and talent to a cause they believe it. Besides being a lot of fun, volunteerism has a positive impact on the mind, body and spirit.
Benefits of Volunteering after You Retire
Most senior volunteers will tell you just how rewarding the experience is for them. About nine million seniors serve as volunteers. Experts say those older adults who volunteer 100 hours a year volunteering receive the greatest rewards. They benefit from better mental and physical health.
Aging experts believe volunteerism has such a powerful impact on seniors because it provides them with a sense of purpose they might be missing after they retire from their jobs and the kids are grown and gone. That in turn leads to a more physically and socially active lifestyle.
How to Find a Meaningful Volunteer Opportunity in Michigan
Seniors in Michigan have a variety of volunteer opportunities from which to choose. It might help to first decide what time of project you are interested in and how much time you have to dedicate to your volunteer work. Also think about the skills, hobbies and interests you have and are willing to share.
These sites can help you explore opportunities near you and see what agencies are looking for in their volunteers:
- Volunteer Michigan is a great organization that helps Michigan residents find opportunities near them that match their interests. The site even has a place where you can share your volunteer story to help encourage other Michigan seniors to join the fun!
- Volunteer Match is a nationwide organization with opportunities from coast to coast. You can choose from a variety of categories including animal and arts organizations.
- United Way of America can also help you find a volunteer project near you. They do so by connecting you with your local United Way office. Each local office maintains a database of volunteer opportunities for their partner agencies.
Finally, don’t be discouraged if health conditions or mobility challenges make it tough for you to drive or even leave your home. Some organizations provide transportation for volunteers. And there are also Virtual Volunteer opportunities for homebound seniors that allow you to participate from the comfort of your own home.