We know that acts of volunteerism help our community, but did you know that when you volunteer, your own health and well-being can improve as well? An independent study by the federal Corporation for National and Community Services (CNCS) provides evidence that regularly giving back as a volunteer can improve the health and overall wellness of individuals over the age of 55. In essence, your act of service not only improves the lives of others, but it also improves your very own. This boost in life satisfaction occurs because of several factors, including:
Gaining a Healthier Body & Mind – Volunteering has been shown to reduce stress, improve mood, and even lower the risk of developing high blood pressure. A large portion of the participants in the CNCS study (78%) also reported fewer feelings of depression after giving back. So while you’re helping others, your own mind and body are being helped as well. Snyder Village resident, Merry Lu Buchanan, knows this to be true from experience. When she moved to Snyder Village’s retirement community ten years ago, Buchanan wasted no time in getting started helping out around campus. She regularly assists with the activities, drives others to appointments, and serves on the Resident Council. “Helping others,” she says, “makes you feel good. It helps me to think of others first…When you put others before yourself, it gives you a better frame of mind.”
Enjoying New Experiences – Volunteering allows older adults to stay engaged and active. It provides the perfect opportunity to try new activities and experiences. Whether you walk dogs from a shelter, visit individuals in the hospital or nursing center, or teach children in Sunday School, volunteering provides a vast range of opportunities for you to try.
Snyder Village resident, Elliott Richard (Dick) Garber, has enjoyed serving the last two years around the Snyder Village campus. His volunteering has led him to new experiences, from helping at events like a pancake and sausage breakfast and a golf outing, to being a spokesperson in a television advertisement for Snyder Village. “I enjoy working with the staff members, who are very grateful. Everyone is always in a good mood, so it is fun,” explains Garber.
Developing a Sense of Purpose – For many retirees, a sense of purpose can diminish after leaving a life-long career. Without a regular outlet to use their skills and abilities, many seniors begin to feel that they are no longer making a positive impact on the world. Volunteering can provide a personal sense of accomplishment and purpose once again as you improve your community and the lives of others. It also provides the opportunity to leave a legacy as you make a positive impact on the world around you.
Connecting with Others – Isolation and loneliness are known problems among seniors, and serving others can often be the cure. According to the CNCS study, 88% of participants reported a decrease in feelings of isolation after regularly giving back. When you commit to serving others, you have ample opportunities to connect with different types of people. Friendships can also form with other volunteers as you help others together.
As part of their volunteer service at Snyder Village, both Buchanan and Garber regularly teach Bible studies to other residents. The meaningful connections formed with others as they learn and pray together are invaluable and positively impact all those involved.
It’s Fun! – Connecting with other like-minded individuals to try something new or accomplish a great goal can prove to be an enjoyable way to spend your free time. As volunteering has been proven to improve your physical health, your mood, and even your relationships, it’s also just plain fun!
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer at Snyder Village, please call (309) 367-4300 ext. 135 or click here.