(Editor’s note: Welcome to the first installment of the Boomer Goals Series, which will dig deeper into topics facing the “Baby Boomer” Generation.)
For many older adults, the retirement years are the long-anticipated golden years. It’s a time where they can kick back, sleep in, travel, and simply enjoy life. It’s the reward for a life well-lived, and something that is to be cherished. Without question, there are many things to do in retirement. But this doesn’t mean those who have retired have to go lie on the beach or play golf every day. In fact, many seniors have a strong desire to be productive in their retirement years, and for good reason. Studies now show that Baby Boomers who give back have a much higher quality of life. As it turns out, giving back in retirement is one of the healthiest things those over 60 can do.
When it comes to giving back during retirement, there are many opportunities for older adults. Such activities can be as simple as random acts of kindness sprinkled throughout the day. Or they may involve something more structured, like volunteering at a community food kitchen. Regardless of the activity, however, Baby Boomers who give back describe a number of benefits they wouldn’t otherwise enjoy. And because of this, health experts encourage giving back in an effort to promote holistic wellness. Likewise, a little goes a long way when it comes to charitable acts. Giving back is therefore something every senior should consider.
“The old saying it’s better to give than to receive definitely holds true in retirement…Our goal is always to help provide the retirement lifestyle you desire, and volunteerism in all its shapes and forms are definitely a part of that.” – Ashley Lodi, Executive Director of Azpira at Windermere, an Assisted Living and Memory Support community
The Perks of Giving Back in Retirement
The benefits of giving back are well recognized no matter what age you might be. But giving back in retirement has some specific advantages for older adults. Baby Boomers who give back notably enjoy a renewed sense of purpose in their lives. Seeking new ways to support others or the community invigorates new passions. At the same time, such activities require physical actions, which keeps you on-the-go and more physically fit. And naturally, giving back to others boosts self-confidence and self-esteem. Given that depression and sedentary lifestyles become more common with age, these are notable perks when giving back.
The other significant advantage of giving back in retirement involves social interactions. Baby Boomers who give back are much likely to experience loneliness and isolation. Instead, they interact with others, including people of various age groups and different walks of life. This diversity of experiences helps strengthen social bonds outside their normal circle of family and friends. As a result, older adults involved in charitable activities tend to be happier, healthier, and better adjusted. Studies have even shown that giving back improves memory and cognitive health while building greater resilience. Based on this, it can definitely be said that giving back in retirement is beneficial to holistic health and wellness.
Where To Start?
Despite knowing about the wellness advantages of giving back in retirement, many older adults don’t know where to start. They assume they need to commit to a charity organization or community building project in order to make a difference. While these types of activities might be great for some, they are by no means the only way to give back. In fact, many Baby Boomers who give back begin with much smaller activities. This might involve helping a neighbor with housework or simply sitting with a friend who’s lonely. It’s not the magnitude of the achievement that’s so important when it comes to giving back. It’s more about making the effort to be charitable in your everyday efforts. In other words, a little goes a very long way.
There are many ways that you might consider in your efforts when giving back in retirement. Some Baby Boomers who give back bring meals or groceries to those with limited transportation. Others donate their time to schools, churches, or nonprofit businesses in an effort to contribute. Other options can also involve mentoring others or providing expert knowledge and guidance. And some who prefer to be less hands-on might decide to set up a foundation or trust. These are just a few of the charitable activities that might be appealing along with many others. As long as it’s something that inspires you and makes you feel good, you’ll reap the benefits.
For many retirees who want to give back, barriers can stand in the way. Even if they know where to start, other obstacles keep them from giving back in retirement. Some get bit by the procrastination bug, and they never quite get around to pursuing specific activities. They think they’re simply too busy for giving back. Others want to make sure they take care of other responsibilities, so they are hesitant to take action. And still others strive toward perfection and never commit because they’re unsure if their effort will be worthwhile. Of course, none of these should deter us from giving back to others based on the benefits they provide. If we just take that first step, we will soon wonder why we waited so long.
Based on recent surveys, Baby Boomers give back show tremendous rewards from their efforts. In total, more than 9 out of 10 of those giving back in retirement stated their mood was better. Nearly 8 out of 10 also described less stress while three-quarters believed they were more physically fit. It was also notable that the acts of giving back varied significantly among those surveyed. Some occasionally engaged in small charitable acts while others took on much larger projects. But the vast majority of Baby Boomers who give back enjoyed a greater quality of life. Once again, this highlights the importance of giving back in retirement. It’s never too late to make a difference or to experience the pleasures that giving back offers.
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