When many older adults make the transition from working adult to retired senior citizen, the world changes for them. In some cases, this might mean being an independent person for the last 40 or 50 years, then suddenly finding themselves dependent on their families for their livelihood. When a person reaches the age where he or she is eligible to be a “senior,” not only do they experience physical changes that come with age, but also psychological changes. To go from a regimented lifestyle that includes getting up and going to work every day, to transitioning to a lot more free time on your hands can be a rough transition for many. But seniors can still contribute to their communities and families even if they no longer have a regular day job.
You’re Never Too Old — or Too Young — to Volunteer
One of the easiest ways seniors can be helpful resources for their communities is to volunteer. With the many charities and organizations that always need help, I have seen how many in my senior fitness programs become valued resources in charity work. Volunteering allows seniors to get involved in activities that keep them busy, occupied, and active. It also allows them to meet up with people, socialize, and at the same time, help those in need. The added benefit to volunteering time to worthy causes is it makes you feel better — which is great for helping fend off anxiety and depression.
Generally with life experience comes wisdom. In my opinion one of the most underutilized aspects of seniors is their ability to be a mentor. Whether it’s done with organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs of America or just teaching someone how to cook, seniors have a lot of valuable knowledge. In speaking with students in some of my senior exercise programs, it is amazing how much can be learned about topics like history, art, politics, business, current events and many social issues.
Taking Care of Younger Family Members
Raising children often is one of the biggest jobs that any parent can have, and having help to do it can make it easier. Although many parents do most of the child rearing, grandparents often provide great support in child rearing and baby-sitting. Also similar to mentoring, seniors who are grandparents have a wealth of knowledge and wisdom that they can pass on to their grandkids. For families with helpful grandparents, they become a resource that can’t be measured.
The great thing about seniors getting involved in activities or groups is that it keeps them involved and active within their families and communities. Seniors should be encouraged to keep themselves busy, and most importantly, they should be made feel as if they are still an important and vital part of the community. By being involved, seniors not only help themselves, but all of society by sharing their wealth of knowledge and experience with the next generation and beyond.
About the Author: Eric Daw is an Older Adult specialist and the Owner of Omni-Fitt. Omni-Fitt is committed to the health of seniors through fitness and all areas of wellness. Eric motivates and encourages seniors in Toronto to take responsibility for their independence and health through positive mentoring experiences. You can find his work at Omni-Fitt or follow him on Facebook