The freedom that comes with retirement can sometimes be a double edged sword. On one hand, you no longer have to worry about clocking in for a nine-to-five job. You can determine how you’re going to spend your time, and there’s no boss or coworkers to deal with during the day. But on the other hand, you might find yourself feeling bored or restless without a defined structure to your week. Many people do use work to socialize, so when you no longer have a water cooler to gather around, it can feel a little lonely.
Becoming a senior volunteer is a great way to feel a sense of purpose and fulfillment in your life, stay busy and active, and give back to your community. As an experienced worker, you probably have plenty of skills, knowledge, and experiences that would be valuable to a local non-profit organization or community initiative. Why not use your newfound free time to give back?
It may be surprising to hear that there are many health benefits of volunteering. According to the Mayo Clinic, the benefits of volunteering can range from reducing stress and boosting your self-esteem, to helping you live longer and create new friendships. Most important, studies have shown that volunteer work during your senior years can be particularly beneficial. Let’s take a closer look at three amazing benefits of volunteering.
Seniors who volunteer actually have a higher level of “job” satisfaction than their paid counterparts. This is because when you volunteer, you choose the project, initiative or organization that is right for you. In a paid position, you don’t always get the choice to have a say in your activities. Volunteer work is completely up to you; you can find something that is meaningful and enjoyable for you. Many volunteers report a feeling of satisfaction and pride from helping others. When you can commit to a cause or organization you feel strongly about, you’ll find a sense of fulfillment in the work that you do.
Research has shown that seniors who volunteer not only maintain better brain function, but their cognitive abilities can actually increase. Using the skills and knowledge you already have and learning new skills while volunteering is a great way to keep your mind and memory sharp. Additionally, the social interaction that comes with working with others also improves cognitive function and memory skills.
Unfortunately, many seniors feel lonely and isolated in retirement. Most have spent their entire adult lives working, so it’s common to feel a little lost or unhappy without having a clear reason to wake up and get going in the morning. Volunteer opportunities give you the chance to be around other people with similar interests, hobbies, and knowledge. Staying involved in your community helps you avoid social isolation, which can lead to depression and loneliness.
There are a variety of opportunities available for volunteers – and the number grows more and more each day. You can start with a simple Google search for volunteer opportunities near you. There are several websites that can help you find the perfect organization or initiative to work with. Volunteer Match, helps senior volunteers find opportunities in their area simply by entering your zip code. Or, The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) also helps place seniors in the perfect volunteer position.
Whether you’d like to expand your horizons, help others, continue to use lifelong skills, or are simply looking for a unique way to stay socially active in your community, consider becoming a senior volunteer.