Retirement is an ideal time for baby boomers to reinvent themselves. Although they’ve stepped down from the workforce, there's still so much to contribute. That’s why many active adults turn to volunteering as a way to give back and stay involved in their communities.
In 2015, nearly 21 million adults age 55+ contributed more than 3.3 billion hours of service in their communities, according to the Community for National and Community Service, a federal agency for service, volunteering, and civic engagement. The annual economic benefit of this service is valued at a staggering $75 billion.
Active adults aren’t just helping the economy and those in need when they volunteer, they also reap many personal benefits. Research has shown that volunteering, especially among individuals age 65+, leads to lower rates of depression and stress levels.
Volunteering also allows active adults to stay physically and mentally fit, and it may even help them live longer. Those who volunteer experience lower mortality rates than those who do not, according to data from the Longitudinal Study of Aging. And for those who suffer chronic or serious illness, volunteering often lessens pain intensity. Volunteering gets individuals thinking and moving at the same time, which in turn boosts their brain function.
Here are some simple volunteer ideas for active adults based on different interests.
For Active Adults Who Adore Babies
For grandparents who have hugs to give but may live far from their grandchildren, some hospitals offer “cuddle” programs that allow volunteers to hold newborns, gently rocking them and singing to them. Active adults should check with their local hospitals to see what opportunities are available.
For Active Adults Who Want to Help Youth
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America launched its Generation to Generation campaign, aiming to connect active adults with young people to help them thrive. Additionally, many volunteer programs are open to youth volunteers, allowing those 55 and older to bring their grandkids and make volunteering a family affair.
For Active Adults Who Want to Work with Animals
Individuals who have a soft spot for animals will find many opportunities to put their skills to work, whether they foster kittens or volunteer their time at an animal shelter. Active adults can even find some unconventional ways to support animals, such as managing a social media account for a local shelter or voicing their concerns at their state’s capital.
For Active Adults Who Like Hands-On Work
Individuals who have electrical, carpentry, or handyman skills can volunteer at Habitat for Humanity—or really any nonprofit. Many organizations need someone to create expansions, build furniture, or handle miscellaneous operational needs.
Of course, if nothing here quite catches your eye you can always check with your community. They may even have a volunteer program already. If not, you can start your own and choose the causes you care about.
By reflecting on their passions and reaching out to help someone, active adults can enrich their lives and fill many critical needs. Click here to research more opportunities for 55+ adults.