Study encourages seniors to volunteer during retirement

Those who volunteer are familiar with the positive effects that can be gained from doing so. Helping others can make you feel good about yourself, and research shows that there are other positive effects that go along with it. A 2014 study conducted by Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences and published in the online journal, Psychological Bulletin, explained that seniors can significantly benefit from volunteering* throughout their retirement years.

Who benefits most?
Whether seniors are donating their time to help at a local soup kitchen or knitting scarves for families in need, the benefits of volunteering are vast. When someone gives back to a special community organization, it makes them feel valued and important, and that can help boost positive feelings. The study concluded that volunteering goes far beyond just good vibes for seniors: it also improves overall health, promotes longevity and reduces functional limitations, as well as depressive symptoms.

"These results suggest that volunteering is associated with health improvements and increased physical activity – changes that one would expect to offer protection against a variety of health conditions," said Nicole Anderson, a senior scientist with Baycrest's Rotman Research Institute and associate professor at the University of Toronto.

It was also found that those living with chronic health conditions might reap the most value from volunteering. The act of helping others makes volunteers feel needed and capable, which is a feeling that someone managing physical limitations may need to help boost their confidence.

How much is too much?
Volunteering is a healthy activity that has positive results for all of those involved; however, the adage "a little can do a lot" applies here. According to the research, just 2-3 hours of volunteer work each week is enough to enjoy the benefits of the activity.

Chartwell Retirement Residences offers a wide array of exciting activities that stimulate the mind and keep residents happy and healthy while living in their senior living communities. For example, their Helping Others for Purposeful Engagement (H.O.P.E.) program provides residents with an opportunity to connect with others in their community and make a difference. This, in turn, can promote a sense of purpose and meaning in their lives and improve their overall well-being. Click here for more information.

*The following sources provide references for this blog, in order of appearance:

  1. Baycrest. "Evidence mounting that older adults who volunteer are happier healthier", Online: