After retirement, you may find that you have a lot of extra time on your hands that you don’t know exactly what to do with. While having different hobbies and finding social activities can help fill the time, another thing to consider could be volunteering some of your time within your local community.
Senior volunteers are especially great for charitable programs and other organizations because your free time is more flexible than that of many other volunteers. Being able to make a difference no matter what your age is has benefits both for you and for your community. Here are some reasons why you should get involved and some different areas you can volunteer in.
Why is it Important to Get Involved?
There are many societal and moral benefits to volunteering your time which we are all well aware of. However, there are other benefits of volunteer work that can have a more direct impact on your life and your health.
Volunteering is good for your cognitive health
By being engaged through activities like volunteering, you can lower your risks of memory health issues like dementia. Staying active and keeping your mind busy in healthy ways can significantly decrease your chances of getting memory diseases like dementia or Alzhiemers as you continue to age.
Volunteering prevents senior depression
Senior depression and isolation is a very serious condition that can lead to a degradation of both your mental health and your general physical state. Meeting new people and remaining active in your community can help you avoid feelings of loneliness and isolation that often arise after retirement.
Volunteering encourages physical activity
It can be hard to stay physically active as a senior, but volunteering is a great way to get in some more activity and movement than you might normally get in a day. From walking as you clean up litter, to helping cook food at a soup kitchen, to playing games with kids, there are plenty of opportunities for healthy activities while volunteering.
1. Food Drives and Soup Kitchens
One of the simplest ways to help out in your community as a senior volunteer is helping feed the hungry through food banks, soup kitchens, food drives, and organizations like Meals on Wheels. These kinds of volunteer opportunities have a major impact on those in need.
2. Helping Other Seniors
Senior volunteers are able to understand other seniors better than younger volunteers, so there are plenty of opportunities to help seniors with dementia and memory care, socialization, and caregiving through programs like Seniors Helping Seniors.
3. Tutoring and Teaching
You don’t need to have been a teacher to be able to help kids and younger people learn. Most people looking for tutoring just need someone who is willing to go at their pace and clearly explain, which senior volunteers can provide. Local schools and after-school care programs are often looking for volunteers to help with tutoring.
4. Work with Youths and Younger Generations
Teaching isn’t the only way you can help younger generations. There are many programs where you can work with youths like Foster Grandparents. Foster Grandparents provides role models and mentors for children across America who need help with reading, who have been abused or neglected, or who have disabilities, among other things.
5. Help with Animals and Animal Organizations
Volunteering with animal shelters or local animal rights groups can bring your love for animals into your retirement years. Shelters are always looking for people to help take care of animals and make sure all these lovable creatures get the attention they deserve.
6. Volunteer with Your Past Career
You can use the skills you gained in your previous career in your volunteering efforts. There are plenty of people who would benefit from your expertise in areas like:
7. Clean Up the Environment
Another big area that is in need of senior volunteers is the environment. Cleaning up litter from parks and streets in your community can make a difference not only on the environment, but in the appearance of your local community, as you are able to see the direct impact of your volunteer work.
Find a Cause that Matters to You
While these are some of the most popular volunteering opportunities for seniors, there are plenty of other causes that need the help of senior volunteers. Finding a cause that is important to you helps you maintain your dedication, as the motivation behind your volunteer work strongly resonates with you.
Doing some research into your favorite causes and letting that inform which organizations or programs you reach out to can help ensure that your volunteer work is going to the people you are most proud to volunteer with. Your assistance is invaluable to many different groups, and both you and your community will benefit from your volunteer work, no matter where you focus your efforts.