When we think about “healthy aging,” many of us may focus on just two activities: eating right and exercising. Although these activities are indeed important in our golden years, they focus solely on our physical fitness, and there are more components of healthy aging that we should be addressing as we age. Keeping our minds sharp, finding purpose in our life, and expressing ourselves creatively are all essential for maintaining our overall health and well-being. To address these areas, we should look beyond the kitchen and gym, and think about joining support groups, taking art classes, meditating—these activities are just as essential for seniors as watching what they eat and staying physically active.
At Avenida communities, our Five to Thrive resident enrichment program was designed to address five key areas of healthy aging with a robust calendar of varied classes, programs, and events, so our residents have everything they need to stay happy, healthy, and engaged. As part of this program, for example, we make sure to provide our residents with volunteer opportunities in the local community.
Volunteering is beneficial for the community, of course, but it’s also very beneficial for seniors for a number of reasons. A recent blog post on LeisureCare.com lists five particular benefits of volunteering for seniors:
- Volunteering can prevent senior isolation and reduce symptoms of depression: remaining active in the community and having a sense of purpose leads to lowered feelings of isolation and disability in seniors.
- Volunteering can make you feel like you have more time and money: contributing to society in a meaningful way makes seniors feel useful and capable, which makes them feel that they can accomplish tasks quickly; this leads to them feeling that they have more time. The same is true for financial donations; giving money makes people feel happy, which prompts them to give more money.
- Volunteering can help improve intergenerational relationships: shared experiences between seniors and high school or college students can create lasting friendships that enrich both age groups.
- Volunteering keeps seniors active for longer: an active lifestyle can prevent injuries and diseases and seniors, and volunteer work provides many fun and enriching opportunities for remaining active.
- Volunteering promotes mental health and may help prevent dementia: volunteering is one of the most meaningful social activities that seniors have available to them, and studies have found that engaging in meaningful social activities can improve mental health and reduce the risk of dementia.
Recently, the members of our Founders Club at Avenida Cool Springs were invited to participate in a volunteer activity sponsored by the Brentwood United Methodist Church. Nearly 20 future residents and their family members purchased elementary school supplies and helped fill backpacks for local kids in need. Additionally, a representative from the Williamson County Parks & Recreation department spoke with the group about additional volunteer opportunities available in the community.
Volunteer work enriches everyone involved, from those participating to those benefitting from the work. Seniors in particular, though, can find satisfaction and purpose in volunteering that may have been missing from their lives since they retired. We look forward to providing our residents with more opportunities to stay happy and healthy while servicing the towns they call home!