As you enter into retirement, you may notice you’ve got a lot more time on your hands. A great way to enjoy this extra time is by volunteering in your community. You’ll better the community around you, and you’ll make positive changes in your own life, as well. Check out the common benefits of volunteer work as well as a list of some of the best volunteer opportunities for retirees below.
Volunteering is a fun way to pass the time and make a difference in your community, but it can also provide you with so much more. Retirees who actively volunteer experience a variety of benefits, from improving physical and mental health to igniting new passions and staying social.
Actively engaging in the community improves your brain’s cognitive function, which can help lower your risk of developing dementia and other health problems. As you participate in volunteer programs or other community activities, you’ll start to build feelings of happiness and positivity, which improves your mental health.
After living in a set routine for so many years, it’s now time to find a new purpose. You no longer have responsibilities at your job, so retiring can make you think, what next? When you volunteer, you can find your drive and passion for helping others and achieving team goals again. With regular volunteering, you can begin to create a structured schedule again if that is something you enjoy.
During retirement, you may find yourself downsizing to a new home, potentially in a new neighborhood, city or even state. Making new friends may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! When you volunteer, you’ll meet a group of people who share common interests with you, making it much easier to build relationships and establish new friendships with like-minded peers.
Getting involved in volunteer groups that meet weekly or monthly is a great way to make sure you’re getting out of the house to interact with others.
Volunteering can help your mental health as well as your physical health. Volunteering will help you get out of the house and actively move your body. Some volunteer programs, such as Habitat for Humanity, may be more physically demanding than others, so make sure you understand the physical requirements of your volunteer work before beginning.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends older adults get 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise each week. This 150-minute goal can break down to 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week. You can easily surpass this goal with regular volunteer work that gets you moving.
Do you have a passion you never had the chance to explore? Now’s the time to do all the things you couldn’t do before. Spend time with the adorable animals at your local animal shelter or help teach kids your favorite painting technique at a nearby youth center. There are a variety of volunteer opportunities that align with all kinds of interests, from art and business to cooking and exercise, so find the right fit for you.
Some volunteer opportunities may even teach you new skills. Volunteering at a local soup kitchen may teach you new ways of cooking, or working with Habitat for Humanity can teach you how to build. If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to garden, local community gardens also need volunteers to help plant and maintain the area. The opportunities are endless to learn new skills.
Some volunteer opportunities will give you the chance to work with people from other generations. Connecting with different generations can bring the community closer together and build understanding between different groups of people. You can share your life experiences and mentor the younger generations while they can offer you a new perspective on life.
There are so many great volunteer options available. Consider your interests and the amount of time you’re willing to spend volunteering. Also, consider the physical demand of different volunteer positions. The following organizations are popular volunteer options for retirees.
Habitat for Humanity helps those in need of safe and affordable housing. This organization has a large retiree volunteer population. Volunteers at Habitat for Humanity work alongside the people and families they help. From repairs to complete house construction, you can see how your help positively impacts the lives of others.
If you’ve never built a house before, no worries — there is no experience required. The organization also offers other ways to get involved that do not require physical building if that’s more your speed.
Meals on Wheels ensures older adults, especially those 85 and older, are receiving the comfort, company and nutritious meals they need. As a volunteer, you’ll pick up the meals from a central location and drop them off at the recipient’s home. You are also encouraged to have a quick chat to check in on the recipients and provide brief companionship.
How frequently you volunteer is up to you, so you can always plan around your own schedule. The Meals on Wheels volunteer program is a great way to get active in your community without committing to long volunteer hours.
Are you an animal lover? It’s likely your local animal shelter is in need of volunteers. You can help provide companionship to the animals or assist with clerical work like answering the phone or filing documents. Do something good for your body and mind and help the community while you get to play with cute animals — what’s not to love?
Niche volunteer opportunities can vary from location to location, but there are a few options you’re sure to find regardless of your location.
Some of the best volunteer opportunities for older adults include:
Are you looking to start the next chapter of your life in a community that values volunteer work and active living as much as you do? At Garden Spot Village, we have a group of residents who see the value in volunteer work and come together to make change — both on and off-campus. Learn more about all the great opportunities Garden Spot Village has to offer, and contact us today.