“Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.” ~ Sherry Anderson
Older adult volunteers are an integral part of Canadian Society. Annually, 36% of Canadian older adults donate an average of 223 hours (2010, Statistics Canada). Every year, on December 5th, International Volunteer Day celebrates the volunteers who contribute so much to their communities.
As it turns out, volunteering has the capacity to give back to those who give so selflessly.
One of the many benefits of volunteering is social engagement. Being involved in charity work provides older adults with opportunities to become more socially active, therefore reducing the possibility of social isolation.
According to an article in the Guardian, volunteering may help to combat stress. A survey for charity Community Service Volunteers found that 62% of older adult volunteers age 65+ reported reduced stress levels. The survey also found that 48% of individuals who volunteered regularly reported feeling less depressed.
A Harvard Health Blog posting suggests that volunteering is not only good for your mind but also your body. The article reports that there is now evidence to suggest that ‘people who give their time to others might also be rewarded with better physical health—including lower blood pressure and a longer lifespan’. However, there appears to be a caveat. A 2012 Health Psychology study revealed that only the volunteers who gave their time for no personal gain (i.e. for truly altruistic reasons) showed the longevity benefit when compared to non-volunteers.
The holiday season offers so many meaningful ways for individuals to volunteer their time and energy. Looking for a meaningful way to contribute to your community? Volunteer Canada offers a Find Your Volunteer Match Online tool to help volunteers and organizations find the right match.