Curb loneliness (and give back to your community) with volunteering
Feeling lonely or isolated? You’re not alone. A Health and Retirement study estimates that nearly 20 percent of adults over 65 are lonely. Social isolation tends to be linked to various health problems, including a weakened immune system, heart disease, depression, and dementia. Even so, most folks who feel lonely never talk to their health care provider about what they can do to feel happier and more connected. But, one of the best ways to bust out of an isolation rut is to get active in your community and lend a helping hand.
Unsure where to start? VolunteerMatch.com helps pair individuals looking to serve others. After creating an account, fill out your interests, availability, and location, and the site will offer a list of organizations to choose from. You can also check out one of these popular charity organizations:
YMCA. More than 500,000 people across the U.S. are volunteers at the Y. If you love children, you may enjoy helping to coach a sports team, teach a class, or read to preschoolers. The YMCA also offers opportunities to work with adults and people with special abilities. Learn more at
Ronald McDonald House. Volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House — more than half a million — help prepare meals, host families, and provide other support and assistance. Learn more at www.rmhc.org/volunteer.
Feeding America. Prepare or serve food, help with paperwork, or greet people as they enter. Learn more at www.feedingamerica.org/take-action/volunteer.
ASPCA. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals needs people to foster kittens, rehab “fearful dogs,” advocate for animal-friendly public policy, and work at adoption centers. Learn more at www.aspca.org/take-action/volunteer.
There are many charity organizations in your own backyard. Ask loved ones where they volunteer. Doing so can bring you closer to those already in your inner circle.
GET OUT THERE!
Just 2 hours of volunteer work per week may ease loneliness*
*A 2017 study in The Journals of Gerontology