After a lifetime of working for someone else, retiring seniors have the opportunity to pursue their passions, instead of a paycheck, by volunteering. And, all that good will may be good for the body, too.
Retirees over 65 who volunteered had less than half the risk of dying compared to their non-volunteering peers, according to the American Geriatrics Society.
Many people have a stereotypical view of retirees; that it’s time to take it easy until their health fails. This couldn’t be further from the truth for many seniors. While retirees may want to spend time traveling and visiting family, they still have chunks of time, even if it’s only a few hours a week, that they can offer helping others. And it can put off that failing health.
Where does a silver-haired volunteer go to give their time and talents? The options are vast. Seniors who love animals can volunteer at a nearby shelter. Tell them you would like to walk the dogs they are housing and you’ll get a great big “thank you” and a smile. If your background is law, volunteer for legal help in low-income neighborhoods. Is your specialty keeping your family’s home for the past 40 years? Then offer cleaning and baking skills for shut-ins. The opportunities are only limited by your imagination.
In turn, seniors can experience feelings of accomplishment and well-being. You can help change perceptions of seniors with the work you are doing. You ward off depression and even Alzheimer’s. You stay physically active. And you can help bridge the generation gap as you work shoulder to shoulder with younger people
"People who are socially engaged will have a better quality of life and better survival," said Dr. Gary Kennedy, director of the division of geriatric psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, who was quoted in an article appearing in Health Day News. "Volunteering is a good thing to do, and lo and behold, it's good for you, too."
There are numerous resources out there to help match you with a specific cause in your area, like VolunteerMatch.org.