Staying Involved with Your Community

August 26, 2014

With age comes wisdom, as well as challenges. Seniors face a litany of physical and other impediments that threaten to hamper their ability to remain involved in the community. However, those challenges – no matter how insurmountable they may seem – are the very reasons that seniors need to remain a part of the community. 

Importance of involvement

Many seniors can attest to the benefits of remaining a part of the community. Take Michigan resident Pauline Grace, for example. During a 15-year span, she has assisted her local seniors’ group, Services for Older Citizens. Pauline reported performing a variety of clerical duties, calling bingo games, delivering bread to seniors, and helping to organize teas and parties. She not only gained a sense of fulfillment, but she was also convinced that volunteering helped her manage the chronic pain of fibromyalgia. 

“When I am active, I forget about it,” Pauline said. “Often when I get home, I think, ‘Oh, my gosh, I got through the whole day without feeling the pain.’ … I think volunteering helps me with it.”

Excuses to confront

It’s easy to avoid interacting with the community. Here are some common beliefs that deter many people from making contributions to society as they age:

  • The community doesn’t value seniors’ involvement.
  • My senior years are the “time to take it easy and retire.”
  • I’m not healthy enough to become involved.
  • I am new to the community.
  • I don’t know how to get involved.

Opportunities for involvement

Communities and institutions are always in search of seasoned volunteers who can add depth and value to the services they offer. According to the Senior Citizen’s Guide to Indianapolis’ “Senior Volunteers in America” article: 

“64.6 percent of volunteers reported serving with their church or synagogue, 22.3 percent report working with an educational institution, like a school, and 37.3 percent volunteer informally in their neighborhoods or towns.
“Seniors who volunteer are some of the most active volunteers within the community. Thirty-four percent of adult volunteers volunteer more than four hours per week; however, over 40 percent of seniors who volunteer give, on average, more than four hours of their time per week to various causes.”

In addition to volunteer opportunities at churches and schools, seniors can take on roles with charities and mentoring groups. Don’t know which one to choose? Several national organizations recruit older volunteers to help groups of all kinds. These recruiting agencies include the Administration on Aging, Volunteers of America, and Senior Corps.

For many seniors, volunteering is something they can hardly imagine themselves not doing. They’ve come to realize that the broader community values their experience, opinions and talents. You, too, have an opportunity to be the catalyst, advocate and resource that so many groups and individuals sorely need. Don’t miss out on the chance to enhance your life and the lives of countless others.

For more information on ways to stay active in retirement, download our free guide, 5 Ways to Stay Active in Retirement.

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