Have you been wondering what you are going to do in your retirement years? Are you concerned about how best to keep physically and mentally fit as you age? As 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day, these are certainly questions that are crossing their minds!
Whether working or not, embracing opportunities to improve the lives of people in your community by volunteering and sharing a lifetime of knowledge and experience might be the answer. Volunteering not only benefits society, research shows it can also pay big dividends in better health as you age.
In addition to providing valuable services to individuals and communities, older volunteers are also living active lives through volunteering. A growing body of research shows an association between volunteering and mental and physical health benefits. Older volunteers report lower rates of depression, fewer physical limitations and higher levels of well-being. Social isolation is reduced and sense of purpose and social connection is increased.
Volunteering can be particularly helpful for older Americans undergoing a life stress or for those who are at risk for being isolated. A study of adults ages 65 and older found that the positive effect of volunteering on physical and mental health is due to the personal sense of accomplishment gained from volunteer activities in as little as two hours a week. Doing good is good for you!
So, how do you get started with this prescription for better health?
The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) is the answer. RSVP gives seniors ages 55 and older the opportunity to volunteer in meaningful capacities throughout Carroll County. As part of Senior Corps, RSVP is America’s largest volunteer network for people 55 and older, with more than 300,000 volunteers in communities nationwide. RSVP’s focus in Carroll County is Healthy Futures, which helps homebound seniors, disabled persons, and those aging in place with food insecurity and isolation. Our predominantly rural county makes it particularly important to address these issues.
RSVP partners with a very wide range of nonprofits, including Caring Carroll, Meals on Wheels, The Westminster Rescue Mission, Carroll County Public Schools, American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity and Carroll Hospice. There are opportunities for grocery shoppers, friendly companions, office workers, special event assistants, drivers and food pantry helpers. Friendly phone calls and providing Red Cross information to armed forces recruits can be done from home. RSVP volunteers have outstanding benefits: training, volunteer insurance, mileage reimbursement and appreciation events. You choose the day, time and place that you will volunteer, and the best match for your skills and experience. If you would like to volunteer to serve with RSVP Carroll County or are a nonprofit who is interested in partnering with RSVP, call 410-386-4646.
Barbara Norman is the program manager of RSVP Carroll County. Reach her at email@example.com.