How Volunteering in Retirement Can Impact You

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How Volunteering in Retirement Can Impact You

The dream of retirement has finally become reality. You’ve said goodbye to the daily grind and now it’s time to do all those things you had trouble getting around to when you were busy with your career. If volunteering has always been one of those things you couldn’t find time for, now may be your chance to dive in. Giving a little bit of your time, and yourself, will not only impact your community in a positive way, but it will deliver some very healthy benefits to you.

One of the key components to a successful retirement is keeping yourself engaged and active. Connecting with other people is good for your physical and emotional well-being, and perhaps you actually miss the structure of waking up and having someplace to go on a regular basis. Becoming a volunteer could bring some of that structure back into your life. How frequently you volunteer depends on you, but studies indicate that those who volunteer regularly live longer and healthier lives than those who tend to be more sedentary.

As an example, a five year study led by Yannick Griep, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Calgary, tracked 1,001 Swedish citizens who were divided into three groups according to their level of involvement in volunteer work. The first group consisted of individuals who regularly volunteered at least one hour per week. The second group volunteered sporadically, and the third group never volunteered at all. The results of the study showed that seniors who consistently did volunteer work at least one hour per week were 2.44 times less likely to develop dementia than those who did not volunteer.

Aside from the medical benefits, volunteerism fosters a positive emotional outlook. Through helping others, you can realize that you’re accomplishing something, which can boost your self-confidence and encourage you to continue donating your time. According to the Mayo Clinic Health System, volunteering will add these benefits to your life:

  1. Give you a sense of purpose and teach you valuable skills
  2. Help you to meet others and develop new relationships
  3. Decrease the risk of depression

If you find yourself with some free time on your hands now that you’re retired, consider reaching out to an organization in need. Think about what you like to do and what expertise you have to share. If you choose the right cause and the right role for yourself, you may just discover how rewarding it can be to volunteer.

To add some fulfillment to your retirement years, check out these resources to find opportunities that may interest you.

  • The IRS will train you to provide free tax help for low-to-moderate income families who need assistance preparing their tax returns.
  • Senior Corps connects individuals aged 55+ with the people and organizations that need them most, utilizing their talents to tutor and mentor students, assist and care for the elderly, and support relief teams during natural disasters.
  • Volunteer Match allows you to enter your zip code to find local volunteer opportunities that are posted by charities and nonprofits.
  • Points of Light. Created in 1990 as a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization to encourage the spirit of service, Points of Light Foundation connects people to volunteer opportunities by interest and zip code.

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