Series on Aging, Part Five: Aging and Volunteerism

Oct 10th, 2008 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

What can I do? As a member of the aging population, I don’t want to just sit in my rocking chair. A previous article, “Retirement: Boundless Opportunities and Wide Open Doors,” broached this subject a while back. Response to it has been very positive. So, let’s look at it again and from another perspective, focusing on seniors as volunteers.

The first piece for us to examine is: where do I gain the greatest satisfaction? There are as many ways to invest time and energy as there are retirees. Considerations include: do I want to do something mental, physical, a combination; something with people, something more isolated; something which uses my skills or helps develop new ones; something working with my peers or a whole different group of people; something that is service oriented; something that keeps me sharp and on my toes or something mindless; something which involves both sexes or just mine?

Having looked at these and concluded which have the greatest appeal for you, then it is time to move to square #2.

Beyond volunteering for personal satisfaction, what other issues need to be taken into account? One, of course, may be what are the time and physical demands? Will this activity take charge of your life or will you still remain the boss?

Examples of voluntarism that are available in most communities include: local library, golf course aide, local food bank, working with environmental groups, assisting in your local church, joining a civic club that has loads of community projects, organizing litter patrols for your neighborhood, working in a thrift shop, coaching kids in sports activities, visiting in or assisting in hospitals or care facilities, working on the staff of a local museum or as a docent in a botanical garden or other nature setting; helping older persons with errands and keeping track of their important appointments; being a crosswalk guard; teaching a class in the local Continuing Ed program or taking one; taking on a new sport, e.g. archery, roller blades; or exploring something you always wished you had done such as art (you name the genre); how about gourmet cooking, learning to play the piano, crochet and knitting, another language, radio controlled model planes?

What it comes down to, is it really is up to you and your motivation, interest and willingness. My father-in-law, at 92, often says: “too soon old, too late smaht.” While it is intended to be a humorous remark, it serves as a reminder that we do grow old and we can keep learning. So take on the rest of what’s left and enjoy yourself and your world just as you go about creating and recreating it. Happy volunteering!



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