Volunteering is a great way to get involved with your local community and make a positive impact on those in need of a little extra help. It’s also a great way for retired seniors to socialize and enjoy the skills they’ve developed throughout life. Whether working with local charities, hospitals or other community organizations, there are a number of benefits that senior volunteers themselves get, as well as the people being helped.

Make a difference
One way that seniors can make connections in their community is to volunteer with children. Many kids might not have a grandparent in their lives, which is why the Corporation for National and Community Service has established a program where seniors can become foster grandparents. This service is for anyone over age 55 who wants to make a positive impact on the lives of children in their hometown. Seniors can work with kids of all ages, mentoring them through school and providing emotional support. Foster grandparents can work with young children while their parents are at work, help grade school children learn to read, or mentor at-risk teens through a tough time.

After retirement, some seniors may find themselves with more free time. Helping kids is one way to continue using the skills developed over time. If you have hearing loss, there may be an opportunity to help children with hearing loss in your area. For young children especially, it can help to talk to someone who has gone through the same things that they’re currently experiencing.

Volunteer opportunities are not just with children. Local organizations, such as churches, synagogues, The Red Cross or community YMCA are always in need of volunteer support. Whether helping with administrative tasks, coordinating activities, or supporting people in need, these community groups typically place great value on the experience and thoughtfulness that seniors can bring to the process. Being part of a cause, knowing you’ve helped others, is one of the satisfying benefits of volunteering.

Seniors can help children learn to read.Seniors can help children learn to read.

Get connected
Sometimes after retirement, the opportunity for seniors to meet and make new friends tapers off, as social connections are often formed through the workplace or during school. Volunteering is a great way to connect with new peers and create lasting relationships. HelpGuide noted that volunteering is great for mental health – communicating and helping others can increase happiness levels and help combat depression. Having a new “project” to get excited about makes it easier to get motivated.

Stay fit
HelpGuide also reports that volunteering is a great way to stay in shape. No matter what level of mobility, there are plenty of opportunities for staying active. There’s no doubt that working with children can increase energy levels. Some programs might include going to a local park and spending time walking and playing. This is just as helpful for the older adults as it is for the children.

Every senior should consider volunteer opportunities in their local community. It’s a great way to make a difference, connect with their peers and stay in great mental and physical shape.

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