December 4th, 2020 | Senior Health
You’ve looked forward to retirement for your entire career, but once the time finally arrives to say goodbye to full time employment, you might find yourself wondering what to do with all of your spare time. It is common for seniors to search for new ways to contribute to their favorite organizations or greater community by volunteering. In fact, Boomers especially are plunging into retirement volunteering their time in short- and long-term roles.
This International Volunteer Day (December 5, 2020), let’s talk more about the ins and outs of senior volunteerism. As you look forward to your retirement, or as you plan for new ways to get out and about in 2021, here is what you need to know about volunteering.
Benefits of Volunteering
Volunteering at your favorite organization certainly brings them the benefit of your talents and time. However, the organization is not the only one who benefits. Volunteers also demonstrate significant health benefits when they choose to donate their time.
The Mayo Clinic notes that anyone who volunteers can see benefits ranging from lower rates of depression to less stress. However, seniors can especially gain benefits from their volunteering efforts, including increased physical activity, longer lifespan, and increased socialization with peers which is quite crucial to healthy aging.
In short, any type of volunteer work can bring you new friends and new opportunities to share your talents with those who need it most.
Where to Volunteer
If you are ready to volunteer your time, there are plenty of places in your community that could use your life experience and passion:
- Pet shelters
- Your town’s library
- Any social service organization that serves those in your local area, such as homeless shelters
- The park district or forest preserve
- Your city’s senior services office
- Meals on Wheels local deliveries
- Local botanical gardens
If you prefer to help out a national or international organization instead, there are many that utilize volunteers. However, keep in mind that searching for a local chapter of the organization is the best way to form connections and makes getting started easier. Organizations to consider are:
- Big Brothers Big Sisters
- National Park Service
- International orphanages
- Veterans Administration
- Red Cross
- Alzheimer’s Association
There are so many opportunities for volunteers, and that is great news for seniors looking to get involved! However, too many options can also make you feel overwhelmed, which might delay pursuing your volunteer efforts. Here are a few tips to make getting started less overwhelming and more exciting:
Write down a list of things you are passionate about or are great at.
Volunteering should benefit the organization as well as be fun and fulfilling for you. Begin your volunteerism journey by taking stock of what passions and talents you want to share. Great at gardening? Perhaps volunteering at your local parks department could be a good fit. Thrive off making someone else smile? Delivering meals to homebound seniors can make their day (and yours). Are you an organization master? Volunteering in the office of your favorite organization could be the best way to share your talents.
Call or email multiple organizations you are interested in volunteering for.
Many nonprofit organizations don’t have a designated volunteer coordinator, which means that returning calls to interested volunteers can sometimes take longer. Also, when you contact multiple organizations, you increase the chance of finding one that fits your expectations.
Determine your needs and if your needs are flexible.
Take time to figure out how often you would like to volunteer and share that with the organizations you are in contact with. Sometimes, your timeframe or your preferred timing will simply not match with an organization’s needs, and that’s ok.
Don’t force it.
Finally, you might find your dream organization to volunteer for, but you aren’t sure if you would like helping with the tasks they need help with right now. Resist the urge to force a partnership that you might dislike moving forward. Remember, volunteering should be fulfilling (not frustrating) for you!
At Legend Senior Living residences, our Life Enrichment teams are dedicated to finding ways to connect residents with passion projects and volunteerism opportunities they love. We know that volunteering brings a sense of purpose and we also know our residents have so much experience, joy, and talents to share with the greater community.
Here’s to making volunteerism a priority well beyond International Volunteer Day and well into 2021.