Become a Volunteer: A Key to Long Life in Retirement

Plans are underway for your retirement next year.  Your plans have included looking at finances, housing, travel, and leisure time.  Of course, you have met with your Estate Planning Attorney to make sure you have all the documents necessary, and they have been updated to reflect the latest changes in laws and the upcoming changes in your income.

You might have started some lifestyle changes to keep your brain and body healthy as you approach this life stage.  Briefly, those are exercise, a healthy diet (Mediterranean diet), good sleep, social engagement, and mindfulness activities.  If you have family members with dementia, you might also add to your daily routine some brain games. 

The one area that does not get much press is that of Volunteerism.  This fits into the area of “social engagement” and, depending on what you choose to do, could include some exercise and/or opportunities to use skills from your profession to teach or mentor others.

Why Volunteer? 

According to studies from Harvard, Mayo Clinic, and Stanford, volunteering just 2 hours a week can have the following benefits:

  • Reduce your risk of hypertension 
  • Reduce your mortality as compared to cohorts that don’t volunteer 
  • Delay physical disabilities 
  • Increase and preserve your cognition 
  • Reduce depression 
  • Increase life satisfaction and sense of purpose 
  • Decrease physical dependency

This is a significant “return on investment” for simply donating 2 hours of your time weekly. 

Volunteer Opportunities 

I would like to suggest that those of you in this early retirement phase look into being a volunteer at an organization in the Village to Village Network, such as Lamorinda Village in Lafayette, California. They can use drivers to take seniors to medical appointments or shopping, handy persons to help with light repairs, and individuals to teach or lecture on a variety of interesting topics (your hobby or passion). This organization would be good to not only be a volunteer but to become a member to address emerging interests and needs of the newly retired with creativity and passion. These villages are run by seniors to support aging in your own home. The Village Movement values and encourages lifelong learning to grow and thrive in your local community.

                  Local libraries, food banks, schools, art galleries, and service organizations like Rotary are always looking for volunteers – the opportunities are endless. 

                  What is your passion?  That will usually direct you to the best place to use your talents or skills to make life better for others, and in turn enrich and extend your own life. 

                  Affirmation: “I am engaged in two hours of giving back every week — in any form of volunteerism!”

                  Resources

                  Mediterranean Diet
                  Lamorinda Village
                  Village to Village Network