Help yourself and others by being a mentor

By Metro News

The role of mentor is complex and sometimes vulnerable to misinterpretation. According to the employment resource Indeed, a mentor is an individual who acts as an adviser or coach for a less experienced person. Mentors often share their experiences and may even offer advice to their mentees.

Anyone can serve as a mentor, though individuals who accept that responsibility are typically older and/or more knowledgeable than their mentees. Mentors may be athletic coaches, teachers, business associates, or esteemed family members. Mentoring is something older adults can consider as they look to share their knowledge with others.

Mental and emotional benefits

Many successful individuals credit mentors with helping them achieve their goals. However, mentors also walk away from mentoring having gained something significant. According to the caregiving company Seasons, mentoring can keep an aging mind sharp. Being a mentor may help at-risk seniors reduce their chances of developing dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease. According to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Gerontology, gains were shown for mentors in “executive function and in the activity of prefrontal cortical regions in older adults at elevated risk for cognitive impairment.”

Mentoring also may give seniors extra reasons to get up and go each day. A scheduled task like mentoring fosters social interactions and changes of scenery. Information published in Harvard Business Review indicates older adults who mentor young people may be three times happier than people who do not.

Qualities of good mentors

  • Seniors considering mentoring should go over what can make a good mentor-mentee relationship. The following are some characteristics of successful mentors.
  • Engage: The mentor should show genuine interest in the mentee, asking about their goals and expectations. Conversation should come easily.
  • Participate actively: It’s important to make the time for mentoring sessions according to what the mentee can manage with his or her schedule. Lessons should be tailored to what the mentee hopes to gain from the relationship. Gauging success along the way and tweaking things as necessary can keep mentoring sessions on target.
  • Listen well: Mentors recognize the importance of listening first and then responding to the questions and needs of the mentee.
  • Possess expertise: A mentor needn’t have an advanced degree or special certification, but he or she should have more experience in a given field or subject than the mentee.

Mentoring is a consideration for seniors looking to remain active in their communities and share their knowledge with others.