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Benefits of Volunteering in Retirement

Retirement is a big accomplishment for many older adults. However, it’s very common for many individuals to suffer both physically and mentally during this transition. In fact, according to the National Library of Medicine, retired adults are more likely to experience feelings of depression when compared to those who are still working. Retirement involves significant changes in daily life, including changes in social roles and networks, and can also include changes to income and health insurance, all of which impact the risk of depression. Filling your time with volunteering is one way many retirees choose to combat this risk in their retirement years. According to AARP, “new research shows that volunteers are enjoying the health benefits after just one year of service, including decreases in anxiety and depression, loneliness and social isolation.” Retirement is something to be enjoyed and celebrated; volunteering is one way to ensure fulfillment while also decreasing the negative effects this transition can have on one’s quality of life. 

How Does Volunteering Benefit Seniors? 

Many communities rely on volunteers who donate their time and skills to strengthen their neighborhoods. Without volunteers, many non-profit organizations wouldn’t exist today. However, volunteering isn’t only beneficial to organizations. Individuals who implement consistent volunteering opportunities into their schedules can benefit in several different ways. Here are a few ways giving back to the community can benefit older adults physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

Increases socialization. It can be difficult to cultivate new friendships as an adult. However, volunteering is a great way to expand your social network with people who have the same interests and values. Social isolation can lead to major health concerns for older adults. Getting out into the community, meeting new people, and having something important to fill your day can help decrease this risk and leave you feeling fulfilled. 

Provides a sense of purpose. For retirees, leaving a career can be a difficult transition, especially after being a part of the workforce for the majority of their lives. Volunteering can help older adults regain a sense of purpose while also staying active and learning new skills. 

Helps engage with old hobbies. A lot of older adults have hobbies that they didn’t have time for while they were working and raising their families. Volunteering during retirement is a great way to reengage with old interests. There are volunteer opportunities that cater to many different interests like working with youth, teaching, cooking, gardening, building, and exercising.  

Promotes physical health. Many older adults struggle to get enough physical exercise each day, especially as mobility becomes more difficult with age. Volunteering can involve many different types of physical activity such as working on a building project or taking care of community gardens. Living an active lifestyle helps older adults stay independent for longer and volunteering can support that in many ways. 

Volunteer Opportunities for Seniors 

There are many different volunteer opportunities for seniors right in your neighborhood but getting started might feel a little overwhelming. Forbes magazine suggests doing some research beforehand and implementing these simple tips to find what’s best for you:

  • Decide what you want to do. Think about what type of volunteering work is most appealing to you. If you enjoy cooking, working with kids, mentoring, or working with your hands, try and find organizations in your area that offer these opportunities. 
  • Read up on the organization. Once you find an organization that offers the type of work that interests you, be sure to get familiar with their mission statement, vision, and values. This will help you decide if it would be a good match. 
  • Consider the type of organization. Think about what type of organization is most important to you. If you prefer to work for a non-profit, make sure the charity is in good standing. Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, GiveWell, Guidestar, Volunteer Match, and Create the Good are all excellent websites that can help you find volunteer opportunities at charitable organizations. 
  • Look up reviews online. Do an internet search of the organization of your interest to get a feel for customer and employee responses. This will help you get a better idea of the values of the organization. 

If you need help getting started in your search for a volunteer opportunity, Forbes magazine has curated a list of meaningful volunteer opportunities for older adults. Here are a few ways to get started:

  • Senior Corps. This organization offers opportunities to adults over 55 years old. These opportunities offer varying time commitments and range from mentoring students to acting as a companion for the elderly. 
  • Local and National Charities. National charities often have local chapters that offer volunteer opportunities near you. Habitat for Humanity offers a variety of activities from homebuilding and restoration to supporting its retail stores. You may search for food banks in your area, which provide opportunities to help feed individuals in your area. The Alzheimer’s Association has many local chapters that need support organizing walks, promoting education, and completing data entry tasks. 
  • Local Organizations. Many organizations in your neighborhood are always looking for volunteers. Schools, recreation facilities, mentor groups, and community gardens are great places to start. 

Promoting Volunteerism at Maplewood Senior Living 

Volunteering can increase one’s quality of life, decrease feelings of anxiety and depression and promote overall wellness, especially for older adults. Our Maplewood Senior Living communities offer volunteer opportunities for residents within our campuses. Our community-style living allows residents to expand their social circles while also finding new purpose in everyday life. To learn more about these opportunities or to schedule a tour, please contact us


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