As children and grandchildren return to their busy lives with school, sports and other activities, grandparents may find themselves with extra time on their hands. And while some enjoy working part-time, many don’t want to be tied to a strict schedule in their retirements years.
As the cooler days approach, now is the perfect time to consider finding a volunteer position that will provide valuable social interaction and help create a more purposeful life. Research shows that volunteering helps seniors remain active longer with lower mortality rates, lower incidence of depression, fewer physical limitations and better overall well-being.
Seniors are living longer these days, in relatively good health, and as result, retirement is often years longer than was expected just a few decades ago. And while helping care for grandchildren can be a rewarding experience, finding a passion beyond family life can provide enriching experiences and foster a love of life at any age.
Think about the things that you enjoy and feel strongly about; it could be education, animal rights, the environment, elder care or the arts. No matter what your calling, there is likely a volunteer position that would be a great fit. Retired teachers may find a renewed sense of purpose by becoming an advocate for children in the legal system or a foster grandparent volunteer. Passing on skills like cooking, sewing, woodworking or gardening can help empower the younger generation to become more self sufficient. Many of the skills once shared between generations are being lost but by passing on these skills, older adults can offer something of great value.
Don’t know where to begin? There a number of data bases that will pair volunteer opportunities with personal interests and experience. Check online for volunteer matching sites such as www.VolunteerMatch.org , www.retiredbrains.com or the Senior Corps at www.nationalservice.gov. Seniors can also inquire at local churches, nursing homes, hospitals, schools, animal shelters and community centers for other opportunities to volunteer their time and skills.