Many parents feel involving their children in volunteering at an early age can have a long-lasting impact on their kids. But youngsters are not the only ones who can reap rewards from volunteering. Men and women at, beyond or approaching retirement age also benefit greatly from volunteer work.
Research from the Corporation for National and Community Service found that more than 20 million older adults contributed in excess of three billion hours of community service time each year from 2011 to 2013.
The reasons why older adults volunteer are varied, but in its 2014 survey the AARP's Experience Corps found that 97 percent of its volunteers indicated that their volunteer work with the organization gave them a sense of purpose.
The right fit can make all the difference for volunteers and the people they help. The following tips might help older adults as they look for an opportunity that best utilizes their skills and experience.
• Know current schedule. List commitments and daily schedule to determine how much free time is available to volunteer. Some opportunities require greater time commitments than others.
• Give consideration to experience. Older adults have a lifetime of experience they can use to help others. Imparting wisdom learned in their professional life can provide a sense of purpose and even make them feel as though they are still actively involved in the industry. But life experience can also prove invaluable in volunteering opportunities. Mentoring gives volunteers the chance to help young people, and can involve more than just offering professional advice.
• Don't downplay the significance of certain opportunities. Opportunities come in many variations, and each is significant in its own right. Coaching a grandchild's soccer team can have as significant an impact on the people the retiree helps as other service.
• Leave time for life. Volunteering is a selfless act, and volunteers are the backbone of many successful charitable organizations. But older men and women should leave time for the rest of their lives as well. Retirement should be fulfilling but also include time for recreation. Don't downplay how important hobbies are in an attempt to find more time to volunteer. Balance charitable endeavors with the other things in life that matter.