Offering your time as a retiree to participate in volunteer activities is very popular with seniors. It’s a great way to connect, give back to the community, and feel a sense of confidence and accomplishment. Let's open a window on the world of volunteer work and its benefits for retired people.

Promotes social participation

Interaction with others is one of the vital needs of human beings. A need that volunteering fills. After a working life where we are in contact with others, it becomes essential to occupy a good part of our free time once we become retired. A sedentary lifestyle and loneliness are harmful to everyone, especially seniors.

There are many ways to offer your time according to your tastes, desires, and deep motivations. Perhaps the time has come to get involved in a cause, become an activist, or offer your help and assistance to a clientele that can benefit from the knowledge you have acquired throughout your professional career.

Another factor that should not be overlooked is the improved well-being that volunteering provides. Retired people who volunteer have fewer symptoms of depression, take less medication, and don't use a lot of health services.

Of course, given the current situation and the distancing measures involved, activities must be adapted. That said, many activities can be done online, such as francization courses or homework help, and it is important not to give them up so as not to become isolated.


Improves cognitive functions

Did you know that volunteering develops cognitive functions?

According to the type of volunteering work you will do, your physical, social, and cognitive activity may increase at various levels. A 2018 U.S. study by Oxford University specifically found that volunteering improves cognitive functioning in older adults. It is due in part to the acquisition of new knowledge and skills. They help improve memory, mental and neurological health and promote better overall health.


Promotes positive and active aging

The number of skills we can acquire through volunteer work is extensive. Many seniors learn about communication, management, and organization and have the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge in areas ranging from health and women's issues to politics and environment.

This strengthening of social ties promotes autonomy and allows people to feel useful, bringing great satisfaction, joy, and a sense of accomplishment. It has been scientifically observed that retired volunteers release a high level of endorphins, which gives them a good dose of optimism!


Improves physical health

You would like to combine volunteering and the improvement of your physical condition? It's totally possible. Why not organize a fundraiser in a sports club, support a cause or participate in the political life of your city by going door to door? You can also get committed to a citizen, ecological and environmental action that involves urban agriculture and gardening.

Research shows that volunteers have better physical health than non-volunteers. It also indicates a lower mortality rate. A Cornell University study followed 500 volunteers for 30 years. Only 36% of them developed a serious illness, compared to 52% of non-volunteers.



 

What volunteer activity could you do?

First of all, the right way to think about it is to ask yourself if you want to 

  • Volunteer year-round or occasionally
  • Do a physical or intellectual activity
  • Pass on a piece of knowledge or a skill
  • Be in contact with a public of adults, children, or teenagers

In any case, when you contact the organization, feel free to ask any questions that come to your mind. Perhaps you could even prepare a list of questions based on your criteria.

Here are some examples of volunteer activities that might interest you

  • Teach English to immigrants
  • Help with homework in a non-profit organization
  • Collect or make clothes
  • Prepare or serve meals to the neediest
  • Become a baby cuddler in NICU
  • Prepare Christmas baskets
  • Do some civic activities such as walking in a park and picking up garbage
  • Organize fundraising events
  • Join the board of directors of an organization that is important to you
  • Some of the Sélection Retraite complexes knit pieces of clothing for people in need or the homeless. Find out more! 

 

Volunteering is rewarding, challenging, and good for your overall health. Follow your hobbies or passions, don't hesitate to explore new areas, or share your knowledge. You won't regret it!

 

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Sources (in French):

http://volunteeringonthemove.uqam.ca/fr/la-recherche-pour-tous/le-benevolat-developpe-les-fonctions-cognitives-des-personnes-agees/

https://www.ledevoir.com/societe/sante/595392/participation-sociale-etablir-des-relations-significatives

https://www.canada.ca/fr/conseil-national-aines/programmes/publications-rapports/2010/benevolat-chez-aines/page07.html

https://volunteer.ca/vdemo/EngagingVolunteers_DOCS/Le_benevolat_et_les_aines.pdf

https://www.bangthetable.com/fr/comprendre-limportance-de-la-participation-citoyenne/

https://volunteer.ca/index.php?MenuItemID=342

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