Many seniors choose to spend some of their retirement time and energy giving back to their community. A 2017 United HealthCare study discovered that 93 percent of senior volunteers report improved moods, 79 percent have lower levels of stress and 75 percent feel more physically healthy. Of course, the organizations and people that these seniors serve gain the benefit of that person’s time, skills and life experiences.
“The old saying it’s better to give than to receive definitely holds true in retirement,” says Ashley Lodi, Executive Director of Azpira at Windermere, an Assisted Living and Memory Support community providing thoughtful and award-winning care to seniors. “We love providing opportunities for our residents to get out into the community and share their talents in ways that are meaningful to them. Our goal is always to help provide the retirement lifestyle you desire, and volunteerism in all its shapes and forms are definitely a part of that.”
Volunteering doesn’t have to mean formally giving your time to build houses or serve meals for an organization. “Giving back can be as small as a random act of kindness to someone you know who is lonely and could use the pick-me-up,” says Ashley. “Many of us, if you asked us directly, would love to be able to make the world a better place in some way. Our residents have that opportunity, thanks to the time and ability their retirement provides them.”
Ashley says that volunteerism and giving back are at the heart of the March activities calendar at Azpira at Windermere. “This month, we’re discussing different social causes, their history and how you can begin to identify charities and organizations that you would like to spend your time helping,” she says. “We also will highlight a variety of opportunities throughout the month where residents can give back in their own way: Employee Appreciation Day on March 5; World Social Work Day on March 16; Let’s Laugh Day on March 19; Red Nose Day on March 28; and others.”
How Volunteering Benefits Seniors
So, what is it exactly that volunteering brings to seniors as a benefit? We’ve identified five distinct ways that volunteering and giving back can provide a boost to your mind, body and soul and fill you up in so many meaningful ways.
It helps you remain physically active. Having a reason to get up and get out of the house makes you, by default, more active than usual. Of course, many groups and organizations require some level of physical activity while volunteering, whether that’s cooking meals, building houses or coaching youth sports.
It helps prevent depression and isolation. Loneliness is common among retirees who don’t have anything with which to fill their days. Volunteering provides an outlet for socialization and meaning.
It allows for cross-generational bonding. It’s very healthy for us to have friends who are a variety of different ages. Older people can share knowledge, while younger people can provide energy, excitement and tech know-how (not to be stereotypical). Being around others who are in different stages of life can be very fulfilling.
It boosts your sense of self-worth. Doing something worthy is a great boost to our self-esteem. Actively volunteering provides an outlet for you to feel good about what you’re doing and, by extension, good about yourself.
It improves brain function and resilience. Getting out in the community, staying social and solving problems is a great way to keep cognitive health at a peak. Meaningful, productive activities have been proven to lower the risk of cognitive decline and other health issues.
Ways to Give Back
Giving back can take many forms. You can choose to share your time with local organizations as a mentor, providing community services, helping those less fortunate, building initiatives and so much more. You can reach out to one specific business, or even a school, to see if there are opportunities for retirees to volunteer their time (think of building sets at a local high school for their theatre productions). If you’re currently living in a senior living community, you may want to see if there are opportunities at your community for you to help others (for example, spending time as a companion with those in Assisted Living or Memory Support, or helping out in the kitchen). Or you may know of a family or individual who needs specific care, and you can provide it. However, you want to volunteer your time, there are opportunities out there.
Giving back doesn’t have to take the shape of volunteering your time, either. Here are some other ways you can “give back” if you don’t want to necessarily “work.”
Create a foundation or a trust.
Retirees who have a favorite cause or mission and have the financial resources can set up a trust or foundation that establishes funds that are devoted to whatever purpose you desire. This can range from scholarship opportunities to helping low-income individuals or anything else.
A trust allows you to provide help without necessarily having to deal with the day-to-day work and decision-making. If you prefer a hands-off approach, you can set up a volunteer board who manages your trust based on rules you’ve laid down. A foundation is similar to a trust, but generally funds an already-established nonprofit or initiative.
Pick up a part-time job.
Yes, we realize you’ve left a long career in the workforce. However, the difference today is that you can spend your time doing something you want to do instead of something you have to do. Many organizations are looking specifically for older adults to fill people-facing roles. These types of positions allow retirees the chance to provide a positive, welcoming environment for the business or group, which benefits everyone in the long run. This is a great option for someone who may not have a specific cause they want to take up but wants to be productive and helpful in another way.
Develop a new skill.
Is there something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t necessarily had the resources or time to do it? There are always opportunities for you to fulfill your dreams while also giving back to the community. For example, if you love creating art, you could find opportunities to sell your works and then donate the proceeds to a cause you love. Or you could become a consultant for a business and share your extensive knowledge. There is a myriad of ways for you to use your talents in unique ways – the only thing that’s limiting you is your imagination.
For more information on how to give back in retirement, or to schedule a visit to Azpira at Windermere, please contact us at 407-278-8508.
Live Well. Age Well. Be Well.
At Azpira at Windermere, located in Windermere, FL, we’re redefining how older adults Live Well. Age Well. Be Well. Our lifestyle is far from “typical.” Our vibrant and engaging Assisted Living and uplifting A Knew Day® Memory Support inspires our residents to live passionately with purpose, every single day.
Step outside your apartment and you’ll experience a community offering thoughtful and award-winning VIVA!SM programs that are proven to enhance your life spiritually, mentally and physically. Azpira at Windermere’s team of specially trained wellness professionals are passionate about building unique relationships with every resident and guiding older adults as they set new goals, forge new relationships and live life at their own pace.
Azpira at Windermere is all about creating an environment that is ahead of the curve in wellness, fitness, spirituality, technology and preventative care. As the times and technology are changing, so are we. Residents and their families, along with our Resident Care Manager, will meticulously build a wellness plan that addresses medicine distribution, fitness objectives, nutrition needs and socialization goals.
Get excited about life at Azpira at Windermere. Our team is eager to guide you on the path you want to live – whether it’s enjoying your own city, exploring new ones, spending time with old friends or spearheading a program of your own, this is your time to live the life you want with the luxury you deserve.
To learn more or to schedule a personal visit, contact us at 407-278-8508.