Health Benefits of
Volunteering for Older Adults
Volunteer roles can benefit you in many ways, from expanding your social network to keeping your body and mind active.
What’s the secret to The Good Life? Doing good for others. Giving your life away in service to others. Those who practice this attitude can attest that it’s the surest way to enrich your own life—at any age.
In retirement, avenues of volunteerism can open as never before. With a wealth of experience, the wisdom of age, and a more elastic schedule, retirees are ideally situated to extend themselves in purposeful activity for the sake of others.
“The impact of service is a changed life—for both the receiver and the giver. Just as often, it brings the return of hope.” This assertion comes from Ken Jaeger, Founder/CEO of MorningStar Senior Living. Ken speaks from experience, for philanthropy has been a central theme of his own life and that of MorningStar’s since its inception. He goes first to his highest motivation. “Jesus couldn’t have been clearer when he exhorted us to ‘love others as I have loved you.’ We are created for love, expressed through service to others.”
Increase self-satisfaction and happiness
Donating time to a community project or local nonprofit might just land you upon the greatest adventure yet. Consider all the causes that stir your emotions, those whose missions resonate with your own. Did you use any services earlier in your life that you’d like to thank by giving back to now?
But thinking about service as purely sacrificial misses much of the point. Says Ken, by way of example, “When you enter the world of the poor, when you take a child from the streets and see to it that they are sheltered, fed and clothed, you’re witnessing the power of love, you’re being love in action. The transformation we are wanting for ourselves is found in helping to transform others.” You awake with a renewed sense of purpose and feel the warmth of knowing your efforts are making a difference, that you are contributing to something bigger than yourself.
Grow your circle of friends and avoid social isolation
With retirement, we often experience decreased social activity and increased isolation. Volunteerism reverses this by surrounding you with people dedicating themselves to the same causes—a support network of like-hearted people. As a loyal volunteer within a particular nonprofit, you will strengthen relationships with others and meet new faces as your circle widens.
Stay active, stimulate your mind while helping others
Some volunteer roles are more physically active than others. If your leg muscles aren’t getting much action, choose an option where light walking is involved. Serving hot meals at shelters will keep you on your feet as you float about the kitchen. Some roles allow you to sit occasionally while putting together care packages or doing face painting at a community fair.
A key component of health is exercising your mind. Get mental stimulation by reading books to children at your local library or helping organize a community event. Learn new skills when volunteering, and possibly find new passions at the same time.
Find volunteer opportunities in your community newspaper or newsletter, on local websites, and through community resources.
For 18 years, MorningStar has been shaping its identity around impacting the world for good. Team members are drawn to the company because of its philanthropic initiatives.
Dining Room Supervisor Cassidy Jones credits MorningStar’s culture training as a crossroad. “It flooded my heart with what I’ve always believed about how to live life.” Thus motivated, she researched orphanages in Africa, six months later traveling to one in Tanzania. “I came away from that service more grounded in the fact that to give love is the only path to fulfillment.”
MorningStar’s President Mark Andrzejewski joined Ken Jaeger on a recent trip to hurricane-torn eastern Nicaragua. “The trip was humbling and revealing. Everywhere you look are people that need help, and not always monetary help,” Andrzejewski says. “Just as meaningfully you can give the gift of your presence, to sit and listen. Whether in Kirkland, Washington or a developing nation, people have the same hopes and dreams. We can all encourage each other in that.”
Naomi Jaeger echoes her father in exhorting others to invest themselves. After living two years in the Nicaraguan orphanage MorningStar supports, she says, “My worldview has changed. I now live in the light of what I saw and experienced in Nicaragua. I respond to people here with more patience and understanding, see people with eyes of grace. In a word, you learn to love people better.”
Her brother John adds, “One of my favorite things is matching people (and their talents) with the needs of a hurting world. Once you heighten your sensitivity, you see opportunities everywhere to step up. It lights a fire in you to engage more and more with other people’s stories.”
MorningStar Senior Living — Independent and Assisted Living and Memory Care
Through the work of its Foundation, MorningStar Senior Living is also committed to giving back locally. Every community chooses a local nonprofit to support with hearts and hands.
“Volunteerism not only forges a better connection with our neighborhoods, it’s another way to live out our mission,” says Ken. “And serving together makes for wonderful relationship-building among team and residents.”
To invite seniors into an active, engaged lifestyle is a healthy proposition. But MorningStar goes further, offering a life characterized by opportunities to give back…the truest definition of wellness.