Volunteering as a Senior
As you get older, it can be harder to do different activities you once enjoyed. If you’re retired or don’t have work to occupy your day, you might be looking for new ways to have fun and connect with your community. Volunteering is a great way to maintain your mental and physical health, stay social, and maintain a sense of purpose during retirement.
The elderly population in the United States takes up a major portion of the volunteering community! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 11 million seniors volunteered in 2015, making up over 35% of the volunteer population.
Retirement can be a difficult transition. You don’t want to go from having work to occupy you all day to sitting around the house. Volunteering can keep you active and help you meet new people in your community. Of course, helping others can bring a lot of meaning and joy into your life, as well! Think of retirement as a time to do more of what you love. There are many ways to volunteer and get involved in your community, and if you find the right match, you can have fun, make connections, and find a new, renowned sense of purpose.
One of the most difficult parts of getting older can be a loss of social connection. Volunteering can help prevent isolation in older adult. Isolation can lead to a higher rate of mortality, higher medical bills, and a greater likelihood of developing illness. Volunteering in your community can help combat this.
There are physical health benefits to volunteering, as well. According to the Summa Health, volunteering can decrease the risk of depression. Volunteering helps increase social interaction and build a new support system, both of which are proven to fight depression. It can provide physical stimulation and prevent stress as well! Studies have shown that for people aged 60 and older, the moving and thinking of volunteering provides health benefits, buffers against stress, and reduces disease risk.
Types of Volunteering
When considering where you should volunteer, think about what old hobbies you’ve enjoyed in the past. Whether you like staying active, playing with dogs, getting involved in politics, or forming connections with others, there’s an activity that can help bring joy into your life in retirement.
Walk, Run, Cycle for a Good Cause
Looking to move around and meet people? There’s a variety of charities that incorporate running, walking, or cycling for a cause in nearly every city across the country. Relay for Life, Light the Night, and Race for the Cure are three of the largest charity races, but different causes might have their own walking, running, or cycling events.
Walk Dogs (APL & Local Humane society)
Are you a fan of our four-legged friends? Consider volunteering at a local animal shelter as a dog walker! It’s a great way to get outside and make connections with animals if you don’t necessarily want to take care of a dog yourself. Volunteering with animals is good for your mental, physical, and emotional health; it’s proven to reduce blood pressure and stress levels! Plus, if you’re walking dogs, there’s all of the added benefits that moving around regularly can bring you.
Mentoring the Youth
If you like spending time with kids, you might consider mentoring at a community youth center, coaching kids’ sports, or volunteering at a toy drive. By providing mentorship, you can pass on your knowledge and passions to a new generation and help steer kids in positive educational and social directions.
You could also look into the AmeriCorps Seniors volunteering program. They have a variety of volunteering opportunities, including the Foster Grandparent Program, where you can care for children with disabilities or mentor troubled teens.
Providing a hot meal for someone
You could also work for the homeless population in your area. This is a common volunteering activity during the holidays, but assistance is needed year-round! Over 500,000 Americans experience homelessness on any given night. Consider donating your time to a soup kitchen, working a food drive, or volunteering at a local food bank. Take a look at the website for the National Coalition for the Homeless for more ideas as well as local resources to get you started.
If you’re looking for other ways to meet new people and stay connected, consider the independent living facilities as Copeland Oaks. Even if you don’t need extra help day-to-day, you’re welcome here. We pride ourselves on being an inclusive living community full of seniors ages 55 and older, all from different walks of life.
We promote an active retirement lifestyle to help you build and develop community ties, make new senior friends, strengthen your mind, and promote wellness. Volunteering fits right into this! You could even find a neighbor at Copeland Oaks that would be willing to volunteer with you.