The health benefits associated with volunteering are a means to combat isolation and loneliness. Volunteering provides many older adults with a purpose. That purpose can help sustain a healthier lifestyle that includes increased physical, mental and social activity.

It also appears that volunteering may pay special dividends for seniors who have chronic health conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Three-fourths of seniors in the U.S. say that staying active through volunteering helps them manage these conditions. Seniors with chronic conditions devote slightly more hours to community service each month when compared with seniors who have no chronic conditions.

The emotional benefits of volunteering are particularly relevant for seniors with chronic conditions, as well. For example, compared to seniors without chronic conditions, most seniors with chronic conditions say an important reason they volunteer is to overcome feeling depressed.

The following are other benefits of volunteering that have been reported by those age 65 and older in the U.S.

  1. Strengthened Mission – Whether it’s passing out lunches to the homeless or building a home for a family in need, nearly all senior volunteers want to make a difference.
  2. Improved Physical Health – Recent research confirms what other studies have revealed: giving back pays special dividends in increased activity, which often results in improved health.
  3. Stronger Emotional Foundation – Perhaps it’s the idea of putting the needs of others before one’s own, but older volunteers almost always feel better emotionally.
  4. Renewed Spiritual Purpose – Along with a need to make a difference, senior volunteers overwhelmingly want to gain a sense of purpose.
  5. Shared wisdom – Many older adults have spent a lifetime in careers or honing domestic and creative skills that they are more than happy to share with others.
  6. Refreshed Perspective and Mental Acuity – Published studies show that senior volunteering in the classroom helps support certain mental tasks like “executive function” or brain activity in key areas of the brain.
  7. Effective Pain Remedy – It appears that giving back could serve as an important stress reliever and distraction for seniors suffering from various chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure.
  8. Invigorated Social Networks – There’s no time when the risk of isolation is as great as the senior years. Volunteering gives many seniors a reason to walk out the door each morning.
  9. Better Mental Outlook – Depression is among the biggest challenges faced by older adults who have lost spouses or whose families have moved away or are too busy for them. Volunteering helps.
  10. Long-Lasting Legacies – Most seniors learned the importance of volunteering from their parents and say they have encouraged their own children to give back to their communities, as well.