Senior volunteers have a lifetime of wisdom and experience to offer individuals and charitable organizations, and almost 25 percent of those over the age of 65 perform volunteer work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many of the volunteers feel it is the most important thing they do, and receive invaluable benefits from their service to others.
Service to others adds an increased sense of well-being and greater purpose to your life. Recent research reported in the American Psychological Association journal Health Psychology suggests volunteer work can increase your lifespan when you’re motivated by increased social contact and/or by helping others.
Zeroing In on Your Options
Helpguide.org suggests that you consider the following questions to pinpoint the type of volunteer work that appeals to you:
- What causes interest you?
- How much time do you want to commit?
- What are your skills?
- How much responsibility do you want?
- Do you want to work as part of a team, or would you rather work alone?
- Do you want a visible role, or would you rather work behind the scenes?
Finding Volunteer Opportunities
Your city or town offers volunteer opportunities through schools, libraries, civic organizations, hospitals, community theater, historical sites, nonprofit organizations, etc. Internet databases can also match your interests and skills with local organizations. If you can’t find anything suitable on the sites listed below, conduct an Internet search for state and local volunteer opportunities.
- AARP: Many organizations have consolidated under the AARP umbrella to attract senior participation. Start with their Volunteer portal, which includes general information for senior volunteers as well as state-specific links, a volunteer blog, and a number of volunteer options. AARP Experience Corps is a new mentoring program, affiliated with the AmeriCorps national service network, available in 19 cities. Search a national database of opportunities through their Create the Good program or click the link at the bottom to create your own program.
- SCORE (formerly Service Corps of Retired Executives): A network of over 11,000 volunteers, many of which are senior volunteers, representing 62 industries and supported by the Small Business Association. SCORE volunteers lend their business expertise to help mentor and offer confidential counsel to budding entrepreneurs.
Seniors across the globe are immersed in volunteer work. In fact, many retired American expats have started their own volunteer organizations in their adopted countries. Their service has united their expat communities and endeared them to their local communities. You can take a page from their playbook and establish a group of senior volunteers in your neighborhood by “adopting” a homebound senior, working together in an established program, or creating a neighborhood program to revive the sense of community that once defined our neighborhoods. And in the process, you might add a few years to your life as a bonus!
Related Blog Posts:
If you enjoyed this article on active senior volunteering, you may also like our blog post on organizing a seniors meet.