Resources for Volunteering in Retirement

Written by: Daniel Gleich

Millions of retired people volunteer each year. In fact, retirees account for a quarter of all volunteers in the United States. They fulfill important roles in their community, including fundraising, distributing food to people experiencing food insecurity, building homes, maintaining parks, working with students, mentoring young people, running clothes closets, and serving as museum guides. Studies have shown that volunteering also helps individual retirees by keeping them engaged in meaningful work and providing them with social opportunities.

Social Benefits

Isolation is a big problem for many retirees, as lots of people depend on their jobs for social interaction. It’s estimated that almost 20% of people 55 and older can be categorized as isolated from society, meaning they have limited contact with family, friends, neighbors, and other members of the community.

  • Isolation leads to higher rates of illness.
  • Volunteering lets retirees interact regularly with other members of their community.
  • It also gives retirees an ongoing purpose.

Improved Mental Acuity

Declining cognitive ability is a real concern that many retirees share. One way to prevent mental decline and avoid memory loss is by keeping active. Volunteering allows retirees to use skills built during their careers while also continuing to learn and grow other parts of their skill sets.

  • One study found that about 70% of retirees who previously reported symptoms of depression saw improvement in their conditions after a year of volunteering.
  • Regular contact with people is an important part of maintaining cognitive health.
  • Feeling involved is also vital for the mental health of everyone, especially retirees.

Types of Volunteer Roles

There are many different kinds of volunteer roles available. Some retirees wish to use and build upon the skill sets they developed during their working years. Other people want to use their retirement years to learn new skills and try new things. The wealth of volunteer opportunities means each retiree can find a role that suits their talents and desires.

  • Many different volunteer programs need mentors for students and young people.
  • If you’re interested in helping other seniors, you can work with initiatives ranging from helping with filling out tax forms to delivering meals.
  • Retirees looking for something to do at home can find many programs that need help maintaining websites, doing data entry, or even acting as an online tutor.

Additional Resources for Volunteering in Retirement