One of the best things about retirement? No job and no worries about punching a clock.
The not so great thing? Well, there tends to be a few more hours to fill the day. Yet there's only so much time you can spend reading, catching up with family and friends, or swimming a lap or two.
While some seniors living in a retirement community keep part-time jobs for budget and anti-stir-crazy reasons, if you're looking for a different kind of outlet, think about volunteer work. There are so many opportunities available to seniors to give back to their local areas, and the time and effort is appreciated by those involved. Not only is volunteering a valuable use of time, but it can also provide a chance for self-enrichment and social stimulation that seniors need to lead active lifestyles in retirement.
Here are some things to keep in mind when looking for volunteer work as a senior:
Find something meaningful
Just as finding a career that's personally rewarding is important, so too is looking for a volunteer opportunity that meshes with your personal passions. If you've always had a soft spot for pets, then your local animal shelter will likely gladly take any help in playing with foster cats or walking dogs. Loved to read since you were a child? Your town's library could serve as the perfect spot for you. Finding a volunteering position that tracks with your interests helps bring meaningfulness to the occasion. If your heart and head are really in it, then everybody benefits!
Of course, you don't have to stick with what you know. If a social cause grabbed your attention recently, like helping refugees from war, don't let that hold you back. What better time than retirement to continue experiencing new things and forging new relationships?
"What better time than retirement to continue experiencing new things and forging new relationships?"
Be a mentor
Seniors have been through and learned a lot during their times. All that knowledge, however, is valuable outside social circles in a community. Finding a way to help teach youngsters or youth in your local area can be just the volunteer opportunity you're looking for.
Say you had years on the police force or as a doctor. It's a sure bet the kids in elementary school would be more than interested to hear your stories. Being a presenter at school events can help connect seniors with the younger generation, which, contrary to popular belief, don't always have their faces in their phones. Give them a reason to listen to you and you can be sure they'll take away the lesson or advice you want to impart.
Don't overextend yourself
Volunteering makes time seem to fly by. When you're enjoying giving back — perhaps a little bit more than if you were dealing with spreadsheets on a 9-to-5 basis — the hours melt away. This can be both a good thing and a somewhat tricky thing for seniors. The important takeaway here is to balance your volunteering efforts with the fact that you need your own downtime too.
It can be very tempting to replace the working hours with those spent volunteering, but seniors have to decompress all the same. Take this reality seriously, especially if you're helping disadvantaged populations or engaging in physical activity (like picking up trash). There's no doubt that time spent volunteering is well-used, but try to keep time for yourself as well. You certainly don't want to become fatigued of volunteering work like you would a regular job.
Perhaps a good tip to live by is keep your volunteering to one or two weekends a year, if you're just getting into it. You'll want to save time for other things like family, friends and activities. However, if you're all in on volunteering, try to schedule your days so you have breaks that you can use to rest mentally and physically.
Retirement communities often make it a point to extend and advertise volunteering opportunities for residents to take advantage of. Such chances are a key way to engage seniors and promote well-being.
If interested in more about Edgewood and our communities, contact us today.