Have you thought about volunteering to help your community as an elder?
Volunteerism is often thought of as an extracurricular activity for older teenagers and young adults – an excellent resume-builder and a great way to get real-world experience – but did you know that seniors are the highest contributing age group when it comes to performing volunteer work?
In this article, we explore the wonderful world of senior volunteerism and how older adults can use it to gift their time and skills and to experience a renewed sense of purpose and fulfillment in the process.
Why volunteer as a senior?
· Volunteering provides older adults with a sense of determination, boosting self-esteem and overall well-being.
· Engaging in volunteer activities allows seniors to connect with like-minded individuals, fostering new friendships and combating social isolation.
· Volunteer work keeps the mind sharp, offering opportunities to learn new skills and stay mentally active.
· Many volunteer activities involve physical movement, promoting a healthy and active lifestyle for seniors.
How do you find the right volunteering opportunity?
· Research and highlight various organizations in the community that rely on volunteers, such as food banks, animal shelters, schools, and hospitals.
· Leverage your professional skills and life experiences by volunteering in roles that align with your expertise or use your talents.
· Consider your personal interests, passions and hobbies when selecting an opportunity and opt for a role that aligns with your purpose and brings you enjoyment and fulfillment.
Where do you start looking? Here are some organizations to get in touch with:
· AmeriCorps Seniors: a federal agency that matches adults aged 55 and up with volunteer opportunities in their region according to their abilities and interests.
· AARP Foundation: The American Association for Retired Persons’ affiliated charity has volunteering opportunities available for those who wish to help with its work improving the lives of seniors in their community. They can help you search for local or remote openings, sort available opportunities by cause and requirements, and provide training and support so you have everything you need to get started.
· Generations United: an organization that offers volunteering opportunities aiming to promote connectedness between generations. Older adults can help with program support tasks, providing mentorship and guidance to younger individuals, and advocacy initiatives. Generations United offers training and an orientation to those who wish to volunteer.
Tailoring Volunteer Activities for Seniors.
· Flexibility: be sure to consider the schedules of volunteer positions you are looking into and find one that can conveniently fit into your calendar. Opportunities with lighter time commitments or flexible hours can be easier to attend to with consistency and without burning out.
· Physical Considerations: look into volunteer opportunities that accommodate physical limitations if applicable, such as seated tasks or opportunities to contribute remotely.
· Intergenerational Programs: consider benefits of volunteer programs that foster connections between older adults and younger generations and utilize the positives and strengths of older age.
· Mentorship Programs: If you’ve had a long career and acquired a wealth of specific skills and knowledge, consider volunteering as an expert in your field to share knowledge with students or aspiring professionals starting off on the career path you have worked in.
· Community Garden Projects: Formally volunteering with a gardening project or simply joining a community garden as a member can promote physical activity, bring a sense of connectedness to nature, provide opportunities for social interaction, and contribute to community beautification efforts.
· Support for Nonprofits: Older adults can assist local nonprofit organizations by participating in fundraising events, organizing donation drives, or serving on advisory boards.
Senior volunteerism is a remarkable way for older adults to make a difference, embrace their passions, and connect with their communities. By considering personal interests, finding the right opportunity, and tailoring activities to individual needs, seniors can embark on a fulfilling volunteering journey that brings joy, purpose, and a profound sense of fulfillment.
If you are looking for guidance as a senior, or as a caregiver to an elderly person, you can book a FREE consultation on our website (or message us through social media to schedule one) to speak to a geriatric care manager and learn more about the services we provide to older adults and their families. Senior Steps is a person-centered practice helping you navigate transitions in later life.