As we age, we continually look for ways to hold off the effects of time and to stay younger longer. Amazingly enough, one of the best ways to live longer is to actually embrace our senior status and put it to work in the community.
Research has shown that seniors who volunteer live longer and happier lives. Volunteering delivers what has been labeled as a "giver's high", a rush of endorphins caused by doing good for others. This rush of endorphins actually goes a long way in decreasing depression and increasing happiness, which is key to improving overall health in our senior years. It also helps to keep seniors from feeling isolated and alone.
On the whole, we are now living 3 times longer than ever before and these years of experience can be a huge asset to our community and to our health. Embracing volunteer opportunities like joining Big Brothers & Big Sisters, not only give you that "giver's high", it also can be a way to pass on the experiences and knowledge you have gained to the next generation.
Find out what opportunities exist around you.
St. Joseph, MO has a lot of opportunities for senior volunteers. We put the link to Big Brothers & Big Sisters above, but there are several agencies, libraries, schools, and community gardens that could use your help. Each and every one of them could greatly benefit from the guidance and experience the senior community can offer.
Decide what you can handle both physically and mentally.
While working in a community garden can be a great benefit to the community, if your joints won't allow you to pull weeds or plant seeds, that may not be the best fit. Equally important is understanding your emotional limits as well. Various agencies have volunteer opportunities to help the less fortunate and abused in our community, but some of those situations can be very emotionally and mentally taxing.
Look for opportunities where you can use your experience.
If you're a former math teacher, you might consider volunteering as an after school tutor, or if you're a retired electrician, you could donate your guidance to a habitat for humanity project home. The possibilities are endless if you put your mind to it.
Don't be afraid to create something new.
Just because you're older doesn't mean you can't show the young pups a few new tricks. If you don't see an opportunity to volunteer that you like - create a new one! If you can fill the gap in your community, DO IT! Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and do something that hasn't been done yet, or possibly needs to be done better.