Why Seniors Volunteer

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“Older volunteers are finding ways to use their lifetime of skills and experience to make an impact on issues they care about,” said Dr. Erwin Tan, director of Senior Corps, who serves as the expert U.S. source for the Salute to Senior Service℠ program. “Whether they serve every day or a few times a year, older volunteers contribute to the health and vitality of their communities by tutoring at-risk students, providing job training to veterans, supporting independent living, or responding to natural disasters.”

The availability of more time now in their lives is just one of the reasons many volunteer. More important, they want to be agents for change in their communities. According to this research, their motivations include:

  • 99 percent want to help others
  • 99 percent want to make a meaningful difference in their communities
  • 99 percent want to provide assistance to causes they care about

A majority of senior volunteers (61 percent in the U.S. and 58 percent in Canada) say they are volunteering more now because the need is greater as a result of the slow economy.

Senior volunteers say they experience significant health and emotional benefits from volunteering. Most (more than 90 percent) feel that seniors who volunteer are healthier and happier than those who do not volunteer. The specific personal benefits that keep seniors volunteering in the U.S.—according to Home Instead Senior Care network research—are:

  • I gain a sense of purpose—98 percent
  • I stay active and feel better physically—98 percent
  • I feel better mentally and emotionally—98 percent
  • I am able to overcome feeling isolated—74 percent
  • I am able to overcome feeling depressed—70 percent

Many seniors enjoy the socialization aspect of volunteering. Four in 10 seniors say they typically volunteer with someone else, usually a friend or their spouse.

These seniors report relatively few barriers that prevent them from volunteering more in their communities. The most common barriers, mentioned by about one in five U.S. and Canadian senior volunteers, are their disabilities, health issues or physical limitations.

You’ll be moved and inspired by these real-life stories behind the statistics about why seniors volunteer.