There are so many causes to be passionate about, and volunteer our time with, that can benefit from us donating our time to. Volunteering in our community gives back to a number of causes and helps us to build up those who may need just a little extra help.
During the years you working in our careers and raising our families, you may not have the extra time to give and volunteer with the causes you are passionate about – and that’s ok. After we retire, though, you will likely find that you have a lot of new found extra time and may not know exactly what to do with that time.
If you are in good health, and you have causes you are passionate about, volunteering in your retirement years can bring a lot of joy to your life and make use of the extra time you have.
It doesn’t have to be a full time job, you can choose how much time you give each week – or month – to the causes you are passionate about so that you can still enjoy your retirement years and spending time with your friends and family.
No matter how old you are or the cause you are passionate about, volunteering brings benefits to everyone who helps out in their community.
In retirement, though, they are some especially important benefits for you and for potentially keeping you healthy in your retirement years. You have a lot to offer to the causes you are passionate about, and volunteering can put your abilities to great use even when you aren’t working anymore.
If you haven’t considered volunteering before, here’s how it can help you to build up your community after you retire.
One of the biggest risk factors as anyone ages is loneliness. As you age, you will likely find your friends are getting sick or have passed away and maybe even your spouse passes away.
When you volunteer with a cause – any cause – you connect with people, and often like-minded people. Feeling this connection, even if you only see them for a couple of hours a week, can greatly reduce the loneliness seniors feel.
Joining groups in the community can help you build new friendships, and you may even run into people you used to be friends with and lost touch with. It can be a social part of your life and give back to causes you care about.
Develop a Sense of Self, and a Sense of Purpose
When people retire, they can feel like they don’t know what to do with themselves or their time. When you are so used to getting up every day and going to work – that was your purpose – and you suddenly don’t have to do that anymore you might feel just a little lost.
This can result in feeling a loss of connection to your community, and feeling like you play a part in the lives of others. Volunteering your time, and seeing that you’re doing good for others, can give you a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of purpose.
There are organizations and causes that cater to specific interests and skills/abilities, so you’re very likely to find a group in your city or town that you’re interested in.
As a senior, you have a lot of experience in your life. There is a lot of value you can add to these organizations with what you’ve experienced over the years.
You don’t have to make another full-time job. Some people report only volunteering one or two hours a week and they still develop this deep sense of purpose and feel like they are making a difference. The overall benefits of volunteering can really boost your self-esteem and sense of purpose in retirement.
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Develop New Skills
While you may be volunteering with causes that cater to the skills or interests you already have, this doesn’t mean you can’t develop some new skills. You can definitely learn something new and step outside your comfort zone by volunteering.
This can involve helping to build emergency survival kits for families, cooking or putting together care packages for those who need some help with meals for their families, or knitting hats for premature babies.
There are so many skills that you can learn from those in the organization you volunteer for, and those you connect with can help you learn skills you didn’t have previously.
Reduce the Possibility of Dementia
There has been some research showing that those who volunteer for at least one hour every week were much less likely to develop dementia than those who don’t volunteer.
It’s also important that this volunteer activity benefits people who are not in your immediate family. If you aren’t exactly sure where you can benefit, your local church, schools, homeless shelters or even libraries are great places to start looking to see where you can help.
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Change the Lives of Other People
Depending on the organization you choose to donate your time to, you may be able to make a big impact on the lives of other people. This could be in the form of collecting donations for your local food bank or fostering an abandoned dog – no matter how you decide to give your time, you’re making a big difference in the lives of others and you’re giving hope.
Pay It Forward
Do you remember a time when someone went out of their way to help you when you needed it? Have you been on the receiving end of people who have volunteered with various causes?
At the time, you may not have been able to give back the kindness you received but now you can – you have the free time and the ability to. You can take this time to give back to your community and pay forward the kindness shown to you previously.
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Better Use of Time
While none of us actually get more hours in the day than anyone else, volunteering your time can make it feel like you’re getting more out of the hours you do have. Giving your time to a cause you are passionate about will make the most of your time, and make good use of the hours you put into it.
While it is completely up to you how you spend your time if you want to feel like you’re using your time wisely and getting the most of it consider volunteering a bit. The benefits that come from it will show you that your valuable time is going to good use.
When you volunteer, you will meet a lot of new people that you probably would have never come across otherwise in your life. Meeting these people can bring you some new perspective on your own life or any challenges you may be facing at that time.
In addition to that, you will get to hear the stories of so many people who have lived lives that look nothing like yours – and that’s a really cool thing. You can use this socialization to talk to people.
Sometimes, especially if you’re working with the homeless or other vulnerable populations, people just want a friend to talk to or someone to listen to them. Listening to other life stories can give you a really different perspective on your own life.
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Getting More People Involved
You have friends and family outside of volunteering, of course, and you likely talk to them on a regular basis. If you get involved in an organization that you are really passionate about you’ll probably want to talk to others about it and how it’s helping to make a difference in the lives of so many.
When this happens, you may inspire others to get involved and help out – so you’re getting others to volunteer their time and help spread the word about the good work this organization is doing.
If you have any kind of social media, you may even post about it there, and then so many people are seeing it and that can really help boost the support the organization has.
There is such a thing known as the “helper’s high” – this feel-good reaction every time you volunteer and give back to your community. There is, of course, a scientific explanation for this.
Giving to others triggers the mesolimbic system – which is that part of the brain responsible for feelings of reward. The brain releasing these feel-good chemicals will push you to continue to volunteer and help out others in need.
Volunteering doesn’t have to look the same for everyone – you want to pick a cause or an organization you are passionate about so that it’s something you look forward to doing on a regular basis. If you have extra time, and you are physically able to volunteer with a cause, you can make a really big difference in the lives of others – even in your senior years.
Volunteering after you retire can help reduce this feeling of being lost, and like you don’t have a purpose anymore now that you don’t have to go to work every day. By giving even a couple of hours a week, you will notice the difference in how you feel and your overall attitude. Do you have a cause you are already passionate about? Find out how you can help them today!