The Joy of Giving Back

Older senior woman chatting with young man, who is reading from a book

“Goodness is the only investment that never fails.” This quote from philosopher Henry David Thoreau illustrates a basic truth about the joy that comes from trying to make the world a better place. For seniors who spend their golden years giving back, the benefits are clear.

The Joy of Giving Back

Seniors contribute hundreds of hours every week to various community service organizations. That’s a huge investment of time! Seniors are known for being some of the best community volunteers around, and there’s a reason for that. While the most important part is the way communities change for the better as a result, the research shows that seniors don’t walk away from volunteer opportunities empty-handed. Once a senior discovers the joy of giving back, it can enrich their life too. What can giving back do for you?

Volunteering Is Good for Your Mental Health

In a recent year-long study of senior volunteers, researchers found that consistent volunteering was correlated with a wealth of positive mental health outcomes. Seniors who volunteered regularly had higher self-esteem, a higher level of satisfaction with their lives, and improvements in their social connections and overall outlook. Volunteering is a great source of emotional well-being for seniors and is proven to contribute to improved mental health. Volunteering can also offer perspective and help seniors keep a positive mindset, which are valuable mental health tools in your golden years.

Giving Back Can Keep You Young

Okay, we admit it, volunteering is not the secret fountain of youth. But it can help a senior stay mentally engaged and connected to younger generations. Senior volunteers bring wisdom and know-how to the work that is powered by the enthusiasm of younger volunteers. In return, seniors get the opportunity to close the generation gap by forging friendships with younger colleagues. You’ll never stop learning new things or making new friends!

Giving Back Will Expand Your Social Circle

Of course, young people aren’t the only friends you’ll make through giving back. Social isolation is an unfortunate issue that many seniors have to contend with, and volunteering can provide a powerful cure. Seniors who volunteer are more likely to make and keep new friends and also have lower incidences of mental health issues related to isolation.

Giving Back Can Keep You Physically Healthier

You’re probably already aware that seniors get a lot of benefits from staying physically active. If going to the gym isn’t your favorite activity, volunteering might be a great alternative. Seniors who regularly participate in community service have increased levels of physical activity and even lower mortality rates than seniors that don’t. Participating in activities that are socially meaningful and enjoyable, like volunteering, has a demonstrable positive effect on a senior’s mental and physical health.

Giving Back Can Give Your Life Purpose

One of the difficult aspects of your golden years can be the way your life changes as you get older. As seniors retire from jobs and other obligations, they may find themselves unsure of what to do with their extra time or even struggling with a sense of purposelessness. Giving back can help by giving a senior a new project to focus on and ultimately feel good about. It’s a win-win for seniors and the communities that they serve.


Are you interested in spending some time giving back this summer? Check out this list of ten great senior volunteer opportunities for more inspiration!

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