For many, life has been filled with consistent schedules, tasks, and duties while working in their given fields. Once retirement begins, they may ask themselves “Now what?” as their schedules open up and they’re left with more time on their hands. Some are eager to fill their days with golf tee times, lunch with friends, vacations, and time spent with grandkids. But for others, a craving for the sense of purpose and accomplishment they once received from their careers still lingers. Studies have shown that those who volunteer during their retirement years can garner that same sense of purpose they once felt in the workforce. Not only that, but volunteering has other numerous health benefits. It can be a great way to fill your time, help your community, and boost your wellbeing.
If you’re looking to volunteer during retirement, you’re not alone. According to AmeriCorps and Census.gov, over 22.6 million Baby Boomers (born between 1946 – 1964) in the United States volunteer, equaling 30.7% of the Baby Boomer generation. In addition, over 6.6 million older adults in the Silent Generation (born between 1925 – 1945) volunteer, equaling 24.8%.
The benefits of volunteering are numerous. Not only are you helping improve the lives of others, but you’re also improving your own. Benefits include:
Promotes Physical Activity – When you have more time on your hands, it’s easy to succumb to the temptation of vegging in front of the television or remaining dormant in your home. A scheduled volunteer role can be just the motivation needed to get out of the house and be active. Helping landscape, clean, run errands, or even stuff mailing envelopes can keep your body moving.
Boosts Mental Health – Volunteering has been shown to reduce stress, improve mood, and lessen feelings of depression. It can even be used as a prevention method for dementia. The National Institute on Aging reports that keeping your brain active and taking part in meaningful social activities, like volunteering, can improve longevity, improve mental health, and reduce the risk of dementia.
Prevents Isolation – When you’re no longer going out into the workforce daily or interacting with others on a regular basis, it’s easy to become socially isolated. Volunteering can often be the cure to isolation and loneliness as it gives you the opportunity to connect with others. Relationships often develop as you meet new people and form friendships with those you serve alongside.
Develops a Sense of Purpose – Some retirees may experience their sense of purpose diminish after leaving a life-long career. Without a regular outlet to use their skills, many can feel as though they’re no longer making a positive impact on the world. Volunteering can provide a personal sense of accomplishment and purpose once again as you improve your community and the lives of others.
At Snyder Village, a life plan community in Metamora, IL, a team of volunteers helps keep things running smoothly. Serving food in the bistros, leading chapel services, playing cards with residents, and doing landscaping are all examples of ways volunteers help at Snyder Village. Nancy Aeschleman, once an employee of Snyder Village and now a volunteer, enjoys coming back to campus to visit with the residents. “I was a cook here (Snyder Village) for 10 years. I loved working here! I call this my home…These people are my family,” says Nancy. She has volunteered for the past eight years in various roles, such as cooking, doing cake demonstrations, and cookie decorating. “It’s absolutely fun and you learn a lot!” explains Nancy.
Ashley Thompson, Volunteer Coordinator at Snyder Village, regularly witnesses the positive impact volunteering can make. Not only does it help keep services and functions operating efficiently, volunteering deeply impacts the individuals involved. One volunteer, a man whose wife recently passed away, still comes to Snyder Village every day. Now instead of coming to visit his wife, he comes to help serve food to the residents. He considers the residents his family, and giving back is a powerful tool in managing grief. “When you can give back to someone, like by reading them a book or just talking to them, it really helps to give you purpose,” explains Ashley.
Merry Lu Buchanan, a resident in the Snyder Village Retirement Community, has seen numerous benefits from volunteering around campus. “It has given me a better idea of how to help folks and to see the needs of others…We all need help,” says Merry Lu. For around 10 years, Merry Lu led a Bible study on campus. In the past she also helped with the residents in Memory Care, assisting where needed. She still enjoys serving as a representative on the Resident Council, helping make decisions that better the community. She also volunteers at her church, helping in the nursery and with the women’s group. “I like how volunteering keeps you busy,” says Merry Lu. “It makes you feel needed and that’s a good thing.”
Several volunteer opportunities are currently available at Snyder Village. For more information, visit www.snydervillage.com or call (309) 366-4135.
Snyder Village in Metamora is a life plan community that offers independent living in its cottages and apartments. Snyder Village also features assisted living, memory care, and a health center along with physical therapy on site. Its home care services support residents in Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, and Marshall Counties. For more information, call (309) 367-4300 or visit www.snydervillage.com.