Seniors in Canada are making a big difference through volunteerism in their communities. A national study concluded that 47% of seniors volunteer their time through unpaid community service. For many of these seniors, helping others defines who they are in their retirement years. Not only are they changing their communities, but they are changing the way we view aging in Canada. These seniors see no end in sight to their community service.
They study found the following:
- 1 in 6 senior volunteers say he or she started volunteering at the age of 65 or older
- 98% of seniors who volunteer say their volunteer work is important in comparison to other things they do in their lives
- 3 in 5 seniors who volunteer say they plan on volunteering “forever.” This percentage is slightly higher for those senior volunteers that suffer from chronic health problems
- 50 % of volunteers who are retired say they are busier now than ever
- The seniors’ most common activities are hands-on projects/general labour; visiting people or companionship; fundraising projects and preparing, collecting or distributing food
- Senior volunteers donate an average of 16.5 hours a month to diverse causes including churches, senior centers, hospitals, schools, and nonprofit organizations. There is no significate difference in the amount of time volunteered by younger seniors (65-74) and older seniors (75 plus)
- Almost all senior volunteers give time to causes in their community because they want to help others and make a meaningful difference
- Nearly all senior volunteers feel better emotionally and physically when they volunteer
- 70% of senior volunteers say they overcome feeling isolated and depressed by volunteering
- 93% of senior volunteers feel that seniors who volunteer are healthier and happier than seniors who do not volunteer
- 86% of senior volunteers who suffer from chronic health conditions say that staying active through volunteering helps them manage their health problems
- Nearly 3 in 5 senior volunteers say they are volunteering more now because the need is greater as result of the poor economy
- A majority of senior volunteers put their money where their time is by donating financially to the organizations where they volunteer.
A call to volunteering is passed from generation to generation. A majority of senior volunteers say they learned the importance of volunteering from their parents’ community service and most senior volunteers say they have encouraged their children to give back to their communities.
Volunteering pays special rewards for seniors who have chronic health conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Eighty-six percent of these seniors say that staying active through volunteering helps them manage their chronic conditions.
Seniors with chronic conditions devote slightly more hours to community service each month when compared with seniors who have no chronic conditions. They are more likely than other seniors to say that their volunteer hours will decrease in the next five years, but they are more likely to say they plan to continue volunteering forever.
The emotional benefits of volunteering are particularly relevant for seniors with chronic conditions. For example, 77% of seniors with chronic conditions say an important reason they volunteer is to overcome feeling depressed, compared to 62% of seniors without chronic conditions.
There are many organizations in Brandon and the Westman area that are currently looking for volunteers! All you need to do is decide where you would like to spend your spare time and pick up the phone.