Volunteer and Vocational Opportunities
One question you might ask when you’ve retired is: What will I do with my time? Senior volunteer programs could provide the answer. With so many people in need, now is a great time to explore volunteer opportunities for seniors. You’ll not only be helping others, you’ll do yourself a power of good.
How Volunteering Contributes to Healthy Aging
Volunteering is a form of vocational wellness — in other words, doing meaningful work. Vocational wellness is one of eight dimensions of wellness, a holistic approach to senior wellness that goes beyond just diet and exercise. When senior living communities take a holistic approach to healthy aging, residents lead happier, more fulfilling lives.
Doing Good is Good for You
Volunteering has social, mental and physical benefits for everyone involved. Here are some of the ways giving back pays you back:
Bridges the generation gap
Older and younger generations have a lot to offer each other, from new technology skills to important life lessons. Teaching and mentoring, for example, can create lasting friendships and change the way we think about ourselves and others. You can look for virtual opportunities at VolunteerMatch.
Fosters a Sense of Purpose
Giving back to your community not only makes you feel good; it also deepens your sense of purpose. You can take pride in the fact that you’re making a positive difference in the world by improving the life of another.
Improves Mental Health
Participation in meaningful social activities, like volunteering, has been shown to improve your mood, increase self-esteem, and reduce the risk of dementia.
Volunteering can help ward off loneliness and depression, especially in seniors who are likely to feel more isolated than younger individuals. Volunteering forces you to connect with others who count on you to be there for them.
Improves Physical Fitness
Whether you’re helping at the local library, organizing group walks or distributing food to families in need, volunteering keeps you active. Maintaining a healthy level of fitness can help prevent injuries and other health issues.
However you decide to spend your time volunteering, it’s important to look for opportunities that fit your schedule. There’s no shortage of volunteer opportunities for seniors, as long as you’re willing and able to donate your time and effort. To help you get started, consider some of these options:
Foster Grandparent Programs
There are a variety of ways for seniors to help children, from tutoring to organizing toy drives to coaching youth sports. Some organizations like Senior Corps connect adults over 55 with local children in need to act as mentors.
If you live near a national park, volunteer at one-time events or sign up to serve a longer-term position. The National Park Service also offers Artist-in-Residence programs if you have a special skill to share.
Libraries are almost always looking for volunteers during business hours. For example, you could work as a greeter, a check-out clerk or an information desk assistant. Use the opportunity to share your love of books, reading, writing and language.
Groups like Relay for Life and Race for the Cure host events in nearly every city across the country for a variety of worthwhile causes. They rely on volunteers to help plan, promote and make each event a success.
Senior citizen volunteers are needed for animal care and training, especially for busy pet parents who have to work all day. Some veterinary offices or groups like the Humane Society welcome volunteers who can do administrative work.
Over 500,000 people in America experience homelessness on any given night, 12% of which are veterans. Seniors volunteers can donate their time by serving up a hot meal once a month, once a week, or more at a local homeless shelter. You can also help by working at a food pantry or organizing a food drive.
Millions of museums across the U.S. are free to visitors, and most of them rely heavily on volunteers. See if your local zoo, arboretum, or science or history museum offer volunteer jobs for seniors.
Don’t let limited mobility limit your possibilities to volunteer. There are many organizations that offer opportunities to volunteer from home in retirement: offering administrative help, knitting emotional support blankets, recording audiobooks, sending cards to cancer patients, teaching English, and more.
Make Your Own Opportunity
Bake sales. Blood drives. Charity fundraisers. These types of causes can be spearheaded by anyone anywhere. Use your talents and intuition to put your passions to good use and give back to the organizations or communities that you value the most.
No matter where you are, there are volunteer opportunities waiting. If you’re in the Bridgewater, New Jersey area, learn more about Laurel Circle’s senior volunteer program and vocational wellness programs.