How To Volunteer In Retirement

Reasons To Volunteer In Retirement

by

John E Chambers
August 26, 2021
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You’ve spent several years of your life adult life working tirelessly and giving your best.

You should be resting now that you are retired. So, why volunteer? Why not travel the world, take up new hobbies, spend time with your loved ones, or do something else?

First, volunteering makes you feel good about yourself and what you care about, regardless of how small the service may be.

This gives you a sense of accomplishment, which is great for your overall health.

Keep reading to discover many other reasons volunteering can be highly beneficial to you when you are retired and have little to no encouragement to get up and stay active.

Find a New Purpose in Retirement

active-senior-woman-enjoys-volunteering

If you’re like most people, you’ve already accomplished your career and family goals by the time you retire.

This can leave you without a sense of life direction in retirement.

Of course, traveling to exotic places and doing all the things you love doing are great. But those, too, will lose their allure sooner or later.

It won’t be too long before you start to ask what you are living for. What new goal or purpose should you start to pursue in retirement?

Volunteering is one of the best ways to find a new purpose when it seems there are no more “meaningful” or purpose-driven things to do in retirement.

However, for it to hold any concrete meaning, consider doing volunteer work for the right reasons. You don’t want to merely go through the actions without a sense of commitment.

We will look at the general requirements for volunteering work in a bit, but for now, it is crucial to mention that commitment and enthusiasm to help others are among the essential qualities to have if you must volunteer.

It doesn’t matter whether you work with others to help an organization or community. It definitely isn’t important if you prefer to help individuals directly. The most important thing is that you are giving back a part of yourself to others and that is healthy on more than one level.

Volunteering and Mental Health

Volunteering can be beneficial in many ways, and we’ll get into that in a bit. But one of the most remarkable positive impacts helping others can have on seniors is improving mental health.

Participating in meaningful and productive activities, like volunteering, can keep the brain active. This is good news for seniors because it means they don’t have to worry so much about dementia and other health problems.

As you probably already know, volunteering has all the characteristics that make it an engaging activity. You get to work with like-minded individuals, meet new people, contribute positively to a cause you believe in, and stay active.

All of these are not only a great way to get physically active, but also excellent ways to stay mentally sharp. With your mental health in good shape, you are less likely to fall into the trap of depression and anxiety.

Requirements for Volunteering

Happy volunteer family separating donations stuffs on a sunny day

The skills and qualification requirements will vary depending on the type of volunteering work you want to be a part of, especially if you are in your golden years.

Some projects may be open to people with specialized skills. For example, you will need a background in medicine if you want to volunteer for medical work.

However, the most important factors that make you a good candidate for volunteer work are hard work, enthusiasm, and readiness to help people and the community.

Also, you need certain skills to be more helpful to others. These include:

  • Strong work ethic
  • Teamwork
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Compassion
  • Reliability
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to learn quickly
  • Time management skills

Volunteering Benefits

It is easy to think of the benefits of volunteering from the perspective of beneficiaries – it seems they get all the positive impacts.

However, the benefit of volunteering is not one-sided. The act is highly rewarding to volunteers, too!

If you’re still asking “why volunteer?” here are 9 life-altering benefits that may get you to consider volunteering:

1. Volunteering Makes You Happier

In many cases, being generous or helping others can make you feel happier than even when you do something for yourself. That’s because volunteering gives you a sense of fulfillment.

Feeling fulfilled is not the same as pleasure; instead, it is satisfaction or happiness for doing something that really matters to you and others.

Little wonder seniors who engage in charity tend to have lower blood pressure, lower rates of depression, and lower mortality rates. They have a higher sense of self-esteem as well as a stronger sense of purpose.

2. It Promotes Physical Activity

Picture two seniors; one stays indoors all day reading the newspaper while the other gives a helping hand to the local sports team thrice a week.

You don’t need to be a genius to know that the one who spends all day indoors is at a higher risk of developing health issues relating to a sedentary lifestyle.

Volunteering often involves physical activities, and this plays a vital role in maintaining your health as you grow older.

Regardless of whether or not you plan to make volunteering a form of physical exercise, the fact remains that it helps you stay physically active.

3. Volunteering Helps You Make New Social Connections

Volunteering Helps You Make New Social Connections

It is common for many retirees to lose their social circle. This can be an emotionally difficult challenge to handle with the kids gone and no colleagues to interact with.

Volunteering provides the opportunity to meet new people and establish new relationships. Plus, you get to spend quality time with people that share similar interests and values when you do volunteer work.

4. Prevents Loneliness and Depression in Retirement

Retirees have a higher chance of social isolation, especially if they don’t have any reason to get out of the house regularly.

A lonely or socially isolated individual is a prime candidate for depression. Thankfully, volunteering usually requires working with the people you are serving or other volunteers.

5. You Get to Learn New Skills

Volunteering gives you the chance to experience in a whole new different way. Perhaps you offer to:

  • Answer calls to a helpline to support those going through difficult times.
  • Support a local conservation project with your gardening skills.
  • Lend a helping hand at a fundraiser for your favorite charity or cause.

Regardless of how you choose to volunteer, you are likely to have new and exciting experiences, as well as develop or hone in on certain skills that may not be otherwise possible.

6. It Bridges the Generation Gap

You can bridge the generation gap that often exists between older and younger people by sharing your expertise, knowledge, and wealth of experience, and wisdom with younger folks.

But that’s only one side of the equation. Young people can also teach you something new from their perspective.

All of this is possible, thanks to volunteering opportunities that bring both old and young people together to work on community projects or for organizations.

7. Volunteering Boost Cognitive Health

Boost Cognitive Health

Memory loss is not uncommon with older people. One way to fight it is by committing to goals, maintaining healthy social interactions, and generally staying active.

These are opportunities that abound for seniors who volunteer. Interestingly, these volunteering tasks do not only lower your risk of memory loss; they also improve your cognitive resilience.  

8. You are Leaving Your Footprints in the Sands of Time

Volunteering is not only contributing large sums of money to charity. It is also looking beyond your circumstance and stepping into other people’s shoes to feel what they are experiencing.

Giving someone a listening ear, visiting someone, or any other acts of kindness might seem like a thing but the impact can be life-changing for the other person.

Committing your time and effort to something that can change the life of others is a good way to be remembered.

Volunteering allows you to leave a legacy for your children, grandkids, and the entire community, especially if you inspire them with hard work and passion.

9. Boost Your Sense of Self-Worth

One of the things that make people take pride in their work is the increased sense of self-worth that comes with working.

Fortunately, you can still get that sense of self-worth in retirement. Actively volunteering means you are doing something productive consistently, even though you are retired.

This will help you feel capable and, in turn, boost your self-esteem and self-worth.

Conclusion

Why volunteer in retirement when you can be having the time of your life?

The reason for volunteering can be purely personal for many retirees, but generally, helping others creates a sense of purpose and fulfillment in retirement.

Also, it helps retirees to stay active and maintain a healthy social connection. This reduces both physical and mental health issues. But perhaps the most important reason to volunteer in retirement is that it makes you feel good about yourself.

Reference:

John E Chambers

John E Chambers is an experienced financial advice expert. Born in Chicago, he has a master's in Industrial Finance, but he has spent decades offering investment advice to businesses and individuals alike. He is the founder of RetireeWorkforce.com and wants the website to be valuable for retirement advice. In addition, he writes articles that help users jump-start their retirement plans and choose the best investment options. If not pondering over stock market statistics or reading some magazines, you can find John spending time with his family. As an early retiree, John also offers unique insights into what post-retirement life is like.