Giving Back In Your Golden Years

By Julian Mokhtar

It’s been said that seniors can find life after retirement boring or lacking in purpose. They can start feeling isolated or that the world is passing them by. Inactivity can lead to depression as well as mental and physical health issues. If you’re feeling like this or know someone who does, volunteering could be the answer. There is a growing trend for senior volunteerism, and it’s a way for seniors to make a positive change in their communities. The percentage of the world’s population aged 65 and above is growing. It’s currently at 10% and is projected to increase to 16% by 2050, continuing to an expected 24% by 2100. With these increasing numbers come more opportunities for seniors to offer their time, skills and experience to charitable or social causes. Senior volunteerism can be significant in a number of ways, for society as well as for those volunteering. It can play a part in contributing to the well-being of the individual senior volunteers themselves, of their communities, and of society in general. Instead of being a time of inactivity and stagnation, retirement can become a time of self-discovery and personal growth. Aside from fulfilment and sense of purpose, interacting with other people through volunteering can relieve loneliness and depression. This is an important factor in improving and maintaining seniors’ emotional well-being. Volunteer work can involve physical activity, whether it’s participating in community walking groups, helping to tidy up the neighbourhood, or helping with food banks and collecting or distributing items for charity. As we know, even a moderate amount of exercise and movement is good for overall health and fitness. In turn this means better resistance to illness and keeping infirmity at bay. Physically feeling better promotes a more positive outlook. Contributing to handling the needs and welfare of the community and interacting with people can be a good stress reliever too. Seniors’ years of accumulated knowledge, experience and wisdom are an asset which can be employed for the benefit of the community. That knowledge can be passed on, for example by volunteering to tutor students who can’t afford private tuition. There may be technical school students who could benefit from being taught some tricks of the trade that aren’t taught in school. Offering one’s skills as a handyman is another way to put one’s knowledge and experience to good use. Besides that, seniors can volunteer to give counselling or just be someone to talk to. In a broader context, seniors can volunteer in areas outside of their immediate community. In healthcare, for instance, Seniors can assist in hospitals or clinics, and in senior care facilities. There are seniors who have become advocates of health-related causes such as mental health awareness and preventing or avoiding disease and infirmity. Another area is environmental causes. There are seniors who take part in projects such as tree planting or wildlife conservation. Here again they can help educate people about the importance of the environment and of wildlife. While senior volunteerism is a remarkable force for good, it is not without its challenges. Some seniors face physical limitations, lack of transportation, or financial constraints that may limit their ability to volunteer. Community organisations and governments can help address these challenges by offering accessible volunteer opportunities and support services for seniors. Senior volunteerism represents a powerful force for positive change within communities and society at large. The significance of senior volunteerism lies in its contribution to the well-being of seniors, community enrichment, and the social and economic benefits it offers. By recognizing the value of senior volunteerism and addressing the challenges seniors may face, we can harness the full potential of their golden years by giving back to our communities and society.