Volunteering as a senior can be good for your physical and mental health. It can keep your body active, from giving tours at a local museum to maintaining community gardens and parks, along with many more options. The National Institute on Aging also reports that participating in social and productive activities like volunteering can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, as well as prevent feelings of isolation and depression. Volunteering with age can also help emphasize the importance of seniors to greater society, as well as keep them connected to younger generations and cultural changes. For all of these reasons, volunteering as a senior can be incredibly beneficial. Below are ways to add volunteering into your lifestyle:
Find a Volunteer Option that Works for You
There are plenty of different ways to volunteer, and it’s important to find an option that not only works with your physical and mental capacity but is also fulfilling. VolunteerMatch is a great website to find volunteer opportunities in many different fields based on your location. In addition, RSVP is a volunteer network specifically for people who are 55 and older. From helping with educational programs to supporting the arts, there are options for every single interest available.
As mentioned, it’s incredibly important to factor in your physical and mental capabilities before you volunteer anywhere. There are options that can work for anyone, including ones where you can even volunteer at home, so there is no need to stress about whether you can still make a difference simply based on your current health status.
Volunteer Your Expertise
There are many ways to get involved by using your specific skill set, whether that be via your work experience or long-time hobbies. Skills for Change is a volunteering network in which you can offer your professional expertise via online volunteer opportunities. Many more opportunities exist that are professional-based: For instance, experienced or retired lawyers can become a part of the International Senior Lawyers Project, which offers pro bono legal assistance in developing countries around the world.
Help Foster the Next Generation
It can be incredibly emotionally rewarding to work with younger generations to support and foster their growth. The Corporation for National & Community Service has Senior Corps programs like the Foster Grandparents program in which volunteers can be role models, mentors, and friends to children with troubles or special needs. These opportunities can range from helping young mothers and caring for premature infants to helping young people learn to read or who have been abused or neglected.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is also an incredible nationwide nonprofit in which you can mentor a young person. Reaching out to the younger generation—in particular troubled youth—can not only set a child up on a path to success but can instill the importance of seniors to the future generation of leaders.
Connect with a Fellow Senior
Helping a fellow senior can be a mutually beneficial option for volunteering. Many different programs exist, including one that is also a part of the Senior Corps program: The Senior Companions program offers those 55 and older an opportunity to provide assistance and friendship to other adults who may have difficult with daily tasks, helping them stay independent and fulfilled at home.
Seniors Helping Seniors is a similar program in which seniors can act as caregivers to others who require in-home care services. While these programs help recipients maintain comfort and care in their own homes, they can also offer friendship and deeply fulfilling volunteer experiences.
All of these volunteer options are great ways to keep active and maintain positive mental health, and there are an infinite number of possibilities to choose from. It’s easy to make volunteering a fulfilling and joyous part of your lifestyle, no matter what age.