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Benefits of Volunteering for Seniors' Heart Health

There are reasons to volunteer at any age, but for older people, there are some very significant ones. Research shows seniors who donate their time to a good cause enjoy greater life satisfaction. They also have better mental and physical health than their peers who don’t volunteer.


Volunteering is a terrific way for seniors to give back to their community while at the same time improving their heart health. Studies have found that volunteering can lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and even decrease the risk of heart disease. But the benefits don't stop there. Here are just a few of the ways that volunteering can promote heart-healthy habits for seniors:


Increased physical activity: Many volunteer opportunities involve physical activity, such as walking dogs at a shelter or cleaning up a park. These activities can help seniors stay mobile and get the exercise they need to keep their hearts healthy.


Social connection: Loneliness and isolation can take a toll on seniors' heart health. Volunteering provides an opportunity to connect with others and build meaningful relationships, which can reduce stress and boost overall well-being. 


Sense of purpose: Volunteering gives seniors a sense of purpose and meaning, which can be especially important as they navigate the challenges of aging. Having a reason to get up in the morning and make a difference in the world can be incredibly motivating and empowering.


Mental stimulation: Volunteering can also provide mental stimulation, whether it's through learning new skills or engaging in creative activities. This can help keep seniors' minds sharp and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.


Talk with anyone who volunteers, and you will no doubt hear them describe how meaningful the experience is. Many say, “they get more than they give.” Aging experts believe it’s because volunteerism provides a sense of purpose that is sometimes difficult to find during the years following retirement. That translates to a more physically active and engaged lifestyle.


If you would like to devote some of your retirement time to volunteer work or help an older loved one connect with an opportunity, here are some suggestions to get started.


Think about purpose: Is there a cause you are passionate about but haven’t had time to explore before? Take time to reflect on what is important to you or what has influenced your life. For example, if you love children, you could research local organizations committed to child welfare or education. Or maybe you lost a loved one to cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. In that case, call or email corresponding organizations to see what volunteer opportunities are available.


Ask friends and family: It can be a little intimidating to reach out to agencies when you don’t have any personal knowledge of or connection to the organization. By asking people you trust for referrals, you might feel more confident calling. Ask around—including on social media—to see who you know that volunteers and if they have any suggestions for you.


Connect online: If you aren’t having any luck with word-of-mouth referrals or coming up with an agency on your own, it may be helpful to use an online database of volunteer opportunities. A simple online search of volunteer opportunities near you can result in a variety of options to choose from. Most websites are easy to navigate and include different search filters you can utilize to find a volunteer project that's a good fit for your time and interests.


Overall, volunteering is a win-win for seniors and their communities. By giving their time and energy to a cause they care about, seniors can improve their heart health while also making a positive impact on the world around them.


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