Volunteering During Retirement

Most people spend the majority of their adult lives saving up for retirement. However, many retirees find themselves somewhat bored with their post-work life once they finally hit the retirement milestone. As a result, the number of retirees seeking volunteer work is on the rise. In a recent Consumer Reports survey, two-thirds of respondents between the ages of 55 and 70 said that they planned to volunteer during their retirement.

Because volunteer work can be a large time commitment, it’s important to determine the form of volunteering that best fits your personality and lifestyle.

Why do retirees volunteer?

Retirees can choose to pursue volunteer work for a number of reasons. As previously mentioned, many retirees ultimately find retirement to be somewhat boring without a consistent work schedule.

Tom Sightings of U.S. News explains that volunteer work also serves as a way for retirees to build social connections. A recent survey found that 85 percent of retirees made new friends by volunteering. Existing friendships can also convince retired people to volunteer. Nanci Hellmich of USA Today says that many retirees ask their friends to volunteer with them.

Benefits of volunteering

Volunteers find that their work offers numerous benefits, the most obvious being a sense of purpose, says Sightings. But the benefits of volunteering extend beyond just emotional health. According to research from the University of Calgary, retirees who volunteer have a reduced risk of developing dementia. During a recent survey, three-quarters of retired respondents said volunteering made them feel more physically healthy, explains Sarah Max of Time.

Volunteering can even present financial benefits. While most volunteer positions are unpaid, a handful do come with a small salary. Certain volunteer positions provide VIP access to events or free admittance to local attractions, says Max.

Drawbacks of volunteering

Despite the numerous benefits that volunteering can provide to retirees, it is not without its drawbacks. The most notable of these disadvantages is the required time commitment. Thomas C. Corley of Investopedia writes that many retirees are not ready for or aware of the amount of time a volunteer position requires.

For this reason, Consumer Reports suggests that retirees start out small with temporary volunteer work to see if they are ready for an extended volunteer position. Robert Laura of Forbes recommends that volunteers have an exit plan in place so they can easily leave a volunteer position if necessary.

How to find the right volunteer position

Before signing up for a volunteer position upon retirement, you should first determine what kind of job you want. Consumer Reports explains that the best volunteer positions make use of your employment background.

Of course, this only applies if you enjoyed your line of work. Laura notes that many volunteers who return to the field from which they retired quickly rediscover why they wanted to retire in the first place. He also recommends keeping your physical limitations in mind when volunteering for work. Many retirees are unable to handle physical labor, which is required for some volunteer positions.

By signing up for volunteer work, you could add a healthy dose of fulfillment and purpose to your retirement.


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