How to start volunteering as an older adult

Older woman smiles with a fellow volunteer taking care of plants

After retirement, many of us are looking for ways to keep busy and find fulfillment. Volunteering is one great way to do so! Older adults make up 25% of the volunteer population, so don’t buy into the myths that it’s too late to volunteer or that you’ll be the only older person there. If you’re looking to take advantage of the mental, physical and social benefits of volunteering, here are some tips to get started. 

1. Decide what kind of volunteer work interests you

According to the The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, some of the most common types of volunteering are:

  • Collecting, serving, preparing or distributing food
  • Fundraising
  • Tutoring or teaching
  • Collecting, making or distributing clothing

But how can you narrow it down? There are a few things to consider when selecting your opportunity including emotional interest and physical capabilities.

Consider your emotional interest. There are likely some causes you’ll be more drawn to than others. Volunteering creates emotional connections, including increased dopamine, so it makes perfect sense to find an opportunity that excites you. When you’re exploring the options, consider why you’re drawn to specific opportunities.

Consider your physical capabilities. Some types of volunteering involve walking door-to-door, lifting heavy objects or standing for several hours. Before you commit, consider whether your physician has suggested minimizing any of these activities. If there is not a job description available for the role, reach out to the volunteer coordinator or organization to learn if this type of labor will be required. 

And if these types of volunteer opportunities aren’t for you, don’t worry! There are plenty of other ways to help your community, including the ability to volunteer online from your home. You can also reach out to local assisted living, veterans affairs or infant care organizations to volunteer as a companion.

2. Find opportunities in your area

Once you’ve decided on the kind of work you want to do, it’s time to look for a nearby opportunity that matches your interests and capabilities. Check out resources like:

While you’re researching different organizations, you can investigate their missions, beliefs and values to make sure they’re aligned with yours. There will often be information on the “about” page of each website.

3. Get in touch with the organization

Finally, it’s time to reach out and get to work! Start with the organization’s phone number, website (contact page) or job listings. Once you get in touch with the volunteer coordinator or apply for the opportunity, you may need to go through some additional steps before getting started such as:

  • Completing background checks
  • Providing basic demographics and emergency contact information
  • Supplying information on physical capabilities, knowledge and education

We hope that these tips can make it easier for you to pursue rewarding and engaging opportunities. If you’d like to learn more, contact our ApexAssistants. Give us a call at (844) 279-0508 (TTY: 711) to speak with an ApexAssistant. Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (local time) from Apr. 1 through Sept. 30 and seven days a week 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (local time) from Oct. 1 through Mar. 31.


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