You’ve finally made it. You’ve finished your last day of full-time employment and are ready to fully embrace your dream retirement. Are you now wondering what to do in retirement? Surely it’s time to make life all about you and your family after years of hard work?
Well, Australians seem to be a philanthropic bunch, with National Seniors Australia figures showing that more than half (52 percent) of people approaching retirement intend to give back to the community through volunteer work.
These aren’t just good intentions either; Volunteering Australia found that 31 percent of retirees are already involved with charity work. Over 65s also commit to more hours than any other age groups, with a median of 104 per year.
But is volunteering right for you? What are the best ways to get started? Can I afford to give my time away for free?
The most obvious benefit of volunteering is that you can help those less fortunate than yourself and support a cause that is close to your heart. But did you know charity work could also be good for the heart literally?
A 2013 Carnegie Mellon University study showed that older people who volunteer more than 200 hours a year decrease their risk of hypertension by 40 per cent.
Research has also shown that volunteering makes you happier. A United Health Group report found that 94 percent of people who volunteered within the last year said it improved their mood. Seventy-eight per cent claimed it lowered stress.
Charity work isn’t just a young person’s game; in fact, retirees have a wealth of experience, wisdom and skills that are highly sought after.
Older volunteers are particularly prized for the workplace knowledge they have built up over the years, which can be applied to various philanthropic projects. Australian Business Volunteers, for example, is largely made up of people who are mid-to-late career or in early retirement.
Picking a group that aligns with a long held passion, or that give you the chance to try something new is a great way to stay happy in retirement.
You also don’t have to limit yourself to just one cause – Volunteering Australia figures show that 20 percent of volunteers work for three or more charity organisations.
— Volunteering Aus (@VolunteeringAus) March 16, 2017
Ready to become a volunteer? There are many sites out there to help you find your charitable calling, including GoVolunteer, which matches your location, availability and interests to nearby opportunities.
GoVolunteer is a Volunteering Australia initiative, and you can visit the latter’s website for resources and research to give you more information about charity work if you’re still making a decision.
Local councils and directories also often have lists of organisations in your area that could use your help. Or you could use a cause as a great excuse to travel and add depth to a trip you’ve always wanted to take.
So why not try volunteering to have a happier, healthier and more productive retirement?
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