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Volunteering for Older Adults

Finding something to do with your new free time is a common struggle for recently retired older adults. But, it’s a good idea for you to try to stay active and maintain a routine. There are so many different options and hobbies available to try, but one of the best things for you to do is volunteer.

Benefits of Volunteering

Volunteering is a win-win situation for both you and your community! There are many benefits to volunteering, and it’s a great part of any lifestyle you want to live.

  1. Volunteering is great for mental health. One of the most common issues older adults face is isolation, since you may not be able to see friends or family as often as you used to be able to. Feeling isolated can be tough for mental health and even leads to deeper mental health issues for many older individuals. Luckily, volunteering can help you avoid this by providing some social fun in your day. 
  2. Besides mental health itself, volunteering can open you up to new and fun experiences. Helping the community means you can meet new people of all different backgrounds and lifestyles, and the ways in which you help your community may also teach you new skills.
  3. Volunteering is also good for overall physical health. Volunteering involves constant conversation and learning of new skills, which will help preserve cognitive skills and motor function. It’s also an easy opportunity for you to stay active, since many volunteer activities involve light exercise like walking.
  4. Lastly, volunteering is beneficial for the community! You have a lifetime of knowledge that can be invaluable advice for younger generations, and you can have a significant impact on your local community.

Ways to Volunteer

Given all of the benefits of volunteering, it’s safe to say that if you can do it, you should give it a try. While the physical exertion involved in some volunteering activities can be discouraging for many, it really shouldn’t be. There’s such a large variety of volunteer opportunities that it won’t be hard for you to find something that works with your lifestyle and schedule. With that being said, we’ve compiled a list of volunteering ideas that you can try.

  1. Mentoring youth: One of the most valuable areas of expertise you have is simply life experience. Your guidance can change the lives of young people, so helping them navigate growing up will be fulfilling for both you and their mentee. This is also a great option if you’re less able to do physical work, since it doesn’t require manual dexterity. Opportunities to be a mentor are everywhere, and churches, community centers, or local schools can be a great place to start looking.
  2. Food drives: If you happen to be looking for a fulfilling opportunity with a little bit of physical exercise involved, then working for a food drive or food bank will be a perfect fit. Organizing food drives or working to sort food at food banks will connect you to other people in the community and give you the ability to help people in need.
  3. Working with nature: Nature is important to every community. You can help your community preserve natural spaces in many ways, from simply cleaning up the outdoors to working as a photographer for local park organizations. Fresh air is always a nice way to feel rejuvenated, and cleaning up natural spaces is a great way to stay active as well!
  4. Teaching: If you’re an expert in your industry or have a hobby that you’re particularly gifted in, you could tutor or teach students. Local community centers will welcome your expertise, and there are also online resources that you can connect with students through. This is a remote-friendly option if you have limited access to transportation.

There are many different ways to get involved, and many volunteer activities can be tailored to your schedule and abilities. If you start volunteering, you’ll find that it is both a fulfilling and exciting activity!

Additional Resources:

Volunteer.gov: https://www.volunteer.gov/s/

Habitat for Humanity: https://www.habitat.org/ 

Volunteer with the National Park Service:https://www.nps.gov/getinvolved/volunteer.htm

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