How to learn and volunteer your time after retirement

October 2, 2015

After you retire, you may find you are bored and have too much time on your hands. If you wish to get out and make new connections, here are some tips you can follow to make that easy.

How to learn and volunteer your time after retirement

Become a foster grandparent

  • Many communities offer programs that let you hang out with kids who either don't have grandparents or whose grandparents live too far away.
  • You'll learn the appropriate time to use the moniker "Dude," how to text on a cell phone and how to design your own Web page.
  • Most important, however, you'll have a new friend, meet like-minded adults, and find yourself more engaged in life overall.


  • Nothing makes a person feel more wanted and appreciated than volunteering.
  • We know this instinctively, but researchers around the world have reams of data proving it.
  • When you help others, your own sense of control increases.
  • With a stronger sense of control, you're less likely to become depressed. It also makes you more likely to accept help from others, another key component of successful aging.

Visit a nursing home

  • It may sound depressing, but it's one of the best things you can do for yourself and the residents of the home.
  • Ask the staff to recommend someone who doesn't get many, if any, visitors.
  • Introduce yourself and start talking.
  • Most important: Listen.
  • Ask the person about his family, his former job and so on.
  • If you don't click with one person, try another.
  • You'll make a friend, and you'll be helping someone else even more than you're helping yourself.

Be bold and take up a sport

  • It may sound like a cliché, but try golf. With three to six hours spent on the course, you've got plenty of time for conversation and companionship. Plus, there are the required post-play munchies at the 19th hole.
  • If golf just isn't your thing, other good "companion" sports include tennis, bocce ball and bowling.

Get a pet

  • Talk about great companionship! Dogs worship the very ground you walk on. They don't care if you snap at them when you're in a bad mood or if you sit for hours saying nothing.
  • Dogs do require that you get out of bed and walk them, at the very least. And that, studies find, is a very good thing for older people.
  • When researchers looked at dog owners between 71 and 82 years old, they found that those who walked their dogs were more likely to get 150 minutes of walking a week and have faster walking speeds than those who didn't have dogs.
  • Other studies find significant health benefits in owning a dog, including faster recovery from heart attacks, a greater ability to live independently and better overall well-being.

Get a job

  • Sure, you've looked forward to retirement for 40 years, but studies find that unemployed people are more likely to be lonely than those who work.
  • You don't have to work full–time; some kind of part-time job that requires you to interact with your co-workers and the public is just the ticket! In other words, no solitary desk jobs!

Register for some college courses

  • If you never went to college or never had a chance to finish, now is the time. The more education you have, studies find, the more social connections you have as you age.
  • Conversely, the less education you have, the more likely you are to become a loner because you don't trust others enough.
  • A higher educational level means you're more likely to volunteer, and as the next tip shows, that's also a key quality in successful aging.

Join Elder Hostel

  • With more than 8,000 opportunities for in-depth, behind-the-scenes learning in more than 90 countries, nothing can keep your brain activated and your social life filled better than this organization.
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