Volunteering in retirement doesn’t just benefit the world; it benefits the retiree. Staying involved as a senior citizen volunteer can help you maintain your mental and physical health as well as help you stay involved in your community. It enables you to stay social and can give you a strong sense of purpose during the often difficult transition that accompanies retirement.
Are you looking for ideas for volunteer opportunities for seniors? Look no further! We’ve created this resource page to help inspire you to give back to your community in retirement.
1 | Act Globally
One of the best parts of retiring is that you have more time on your hands to do what you love. If one of the things you love is travel, then consider combining that passion with some volunteering! Road Scholar offers volunteer opportunities overseas for seniors, as well as service learning programs right here in the U.S. Make the world a better place while taking part in educational travel experiences, from excavating Mammoth fossils in the Black Hills to teaching English in India.
2 | Be a Foster Grandparent
There are endless volunteer opportunities to help children, from tutoring to organizing toy drives to coaching a youth sports team. But one that fits particularly well for volunteering in retirement is Senior Corps’ foster grandparent program, which pairs adults over 55 with children in need in their communities for mentorship.
3 | Volunteer at a National Park
There are many volunteer opportunities for seniors at national parks for those who live near one. You can volunteer at one-time events if you have limited time to give or serve a longer-term position. The National Park Service even offers an artist-in-residence program for visual artists, writers, musicians and more. Plus, 250 service hours earn you a free volunteer pass.
4 | Lend a Hand at Your Local Library
Libraries are usually underfunded and looking for volunteers to help during business hours, which is a perfect volunteer opportunity for retired seniors, especially retired teachers. Work as a greeter or genealogy clerk, or teach English as a second language as you share your love for books, reading, writing and language.
5 | Run, Walk or Cycle for a Good Cause
Relay for Life, Light the Night, and Race for the Cure are three of the largest charity walks/races, and these and others happen in nearly every city across the country and for just about any cause. Not only do they benefit the charity, but they keep your body moving, which is always a benefit for seniors. Find one in your area, or if there isn’t one established in your community already, reach out to a charity organization to get one started.
6 | Walk Dogs
Volunteering for senior citizens can take many forms. An excellent volunteer opportunity for seniors is walking dogs. As a senior, you can connect with your local humane society or other nonprofit that needs assistance walking dogs. Walking dogs offers several key benefits to seniors, such as:
Physical exercise: Walking dogs is a great way to get movement throughout the day, allowing seniors to strengthen their muscles and improve their overall health.Social interaction: Through dog walking, seniors can connect with other dog owners and people in their community, which can help build strong social connections and conversations. Stress relief: There are countless studies showing the benefit of interacting with dogs, including reducing stress and promoting relaxation. Companionship: Dog walking is a great way for seniors to experience the joy of spending time with a furry friend, which can help reduce feelings of loneliness. Community support: Walking dogs is a great volunteer opportunity for seniors because it allows them to give back to local organizations and dog shelters.
The Humane Society and the MSPCA have branches across the country, and you can also find local shelters in your community. Senior citizen volunteers are needed for animal care and training, as well as administrative work, animal rights advocacy and more.
7 | Join the Peace Corps
The average age of a Peace Corps volunteer is 28, but the global volunteer program has launched an initiative to attract retired volunteers. You can even serve with your spouse or partner. This can be a perfect fit for those adventurous folks and lifelong learners looking for an opportunity to give back and see the world.
8 | Become an Activist
Do your civic duty and get involved at the local, state or national level! There are many volunteer opportunities for seniors as activists, from attending rallies, to helping register people to vote or volunteering for a political campaign, to lending a hand at the polls or for an advocacy organization like the ACLU. Find the causes that are most important to you and fight for them!
9 | Assist Older Americans
One of the top volunteer opportunities for senior citizens is assisting other seniors. If you’re an able-bodied person who has the resources, you can give back to other older Americans in various ways. You can provide meal delivery and food assistance to prepare and deliver meals for homebound adults. Other volunteer opportunities that connect you with other seniors in need include transportation assistance, where you provide transportation to other seniors to get to medical appointments, the grocery store or social events. Or, you can consider senior companionship volunteer opportunities, where you can provide emotional support to fellow seniors who might be living alone or in assisted living facilities.
The Older Americans Act, enacted in 1965, serves more than 10 million citizens each year, offering meal delivery, transportation services, counseling, and more. The “Got an Hour?” program provides volunteer opportunities for retirees to help other older folks in their area, even if they have limited time to help.
10 | Provide a Hot Meal
More than 500,000 people in America experience homelessness on any night, 12% of whom are veterans. These folks need help year-round, not just during the holidays. Seniors volunteers can donate their time by serving up a hot meal and a slice of humanity one time, monthly or once a week at a local homeless shelter. You can also help gather the food they need by working at a food pantry or organizing a food drive. Visit the National Coalition for the Homeless for resources.
11 | Help Out at a Favorite Museum
Museums are usually nonprofits, which are funded by the government and private donors. Millions of museums across the U.S. are free to visitors, and most rely greatly on volunteers. Visit your local zoo, arboretum, science or history museum to see what kinds of volunteer jobs are available for seniors. For more information, check out the American Alliance of Museums’ website.
12 | Volunteer Virtually
For those with limited mobility or transportation, you can still get involved. Many organizations offer opportunities to volunteer from home in retirement, like providing administrative help, knitting emotional support blankets, recording audiobooks, sending cards to cancer patients, teaching English and more. Check out DoSomething.org for organizations that need remote volunteers.
13 | Organize Your Own Fundraiser
Hold a bake sale, organize a community blood drive, raise money for your local Red Cross or send cards to soldiers overseas. There is unlimited space for creativity when it comes to volunteering in retirement. Use your talents and incorporate your passions to give back to organizations or communities that matter most to you.
14 | Professional Coach or Mentor
Retirement doesn’t mean you have to hang up the skills that you’ve built throughout your career. If you’re looking for volunteer ideas for seniors, consider volunteering as a professional coach or mentor to give back to younger generations just starting in the workforce. As a professional coach or mentor, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with other generations and provide knowledge, skills and wisdom that you’ve learned throughout your decades as a professional in your field. Being a professional coach or mentor is great volunteer work for seniors, as it offers a plethora of exciting benefits, such as:
Fulfilling your sense of purpose: Volunteering as a coach or mentor allows you use your skills and knowledge in a meaningful way, giving you a sense of purpose. Through your volunteer work as a coach or mentor, you’ll be able to positively impact on someone else’s life and contribute to their own personal and professional growth. Boosting your cognitive strength: Engaging in mentoring or coaching activities can help stimulate your cognitive abilities by challenging your thinking and allowing you to problem-solve and communicate effectively. In turn, this can help enhance your mental sharpness and prevent cognitive decline. Building meaningful connections: What makes being a professional coach or mentor one of the best volunteer opportunities for seniors, is building meaningful connections with those you coach or mentor. Through this volunteering experience, you’ll be able to talk with individuals from other generations, learn about their hopes, ambitions and doubts, and offer guidance that can foster a sense of understanding. Together, you and your mentee can forge strong intergenerational bonds to help you combat feelings of social isolation.
Volunteering as a professional coach or mentor allows seniors to share the knowledge they’ve accumulated to benefit younger generations.You can work through various organizations to connect with youth and offer guidance and expertise. One program is Be a Mentor, a nonprofit organization that helps children develop the skills necessary to make healthy life choices and build vibrant lives for themselves.
15 | Community Gardens
One of the top volunteer opportunities for seniors is helping at a local community garden. A community garden is a shared piece of land cultivated and maintained by a group of people. It serves as a place for families and individuals to gather to grow plants, herbs, vegetables and fruits. Most community gardens allow individuals or groups to maintain their designated crops or plants, while having a shared communal space where members can share resources, such as tools and compost. Community gardens are one of the best volunteer opportunities for seniors for several reasons. Some of the reasons why volunteer work for seniors at a community garden can be so beneficial include:
Connection with nature: Spending time in nature has numerous emotional and mental benefits, allowing seniors to enjoy fresh air, green surroundings and sunlight. These natural elements can help reduce stress, improve mood, and enhance overall well-being. Physical activity: As you age, physical activity can become more challenging. However, volunteer opportunities for senior citizens at community gardens offer a low-impact physical exercise that can strengthen muscles, bones and ligaments. With tasks like watering, shoveling, planting, weeding and harvesting, seniors can get regular exercise to promote better physical health, strength, and flexibility. Social engagement: Volunteering at a community garden is a great opportunity for seniors to engage with their community. When working at a community garden, seniors can converse with people from the local neighborhood, interact with fellow gardeners, share gardening tips and build social interactions that foster a sense of community and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Improving food security: Community gardens are one of the top volunteer ideas for seniors because they allow seniors to contribute to food security. Community gardens allow gardeners to produce food for their local community, especially in areas with limited access to fresh and healthy food. It also provides for the promotion of sustainable agriculture that gives back to those in need. Learning opportunities: You’re never too old to learn, and volunteering at a community garden is a great way for seniors to learn new skills, such as knowledge about plants, soil and sustainable gardening practices. This continued learning helps contribute to cognitive development and personal growth.
These are just some reasons why volunteering for older adults at community gardens is beneficial. If you’re interested in helping out at your local garden, various nonprofits offer opportunities for seniors, such as The American Community Gardening Association, which is a 501(c)(3) that links gardens across the U.S. and Canada to bring people, resources, and education together to benefit local neighborhoods through community gardening.
Endless Retirement Volunteer Opportunities
This list is by no means comprehensive. There are millions of volunteer opportunities for seniors to combine their passions and talents with community service. If you haven’t found your perfect fit on this list, check out The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) or Volunteer Match for more ideas and resources for volunteering in retirement.