Tag Archive - volunteering

Seniors – more time on their hands but not volunteering

Agelessvoice asks Laurence Lien, CEO of the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), about the low senior volunteerism numbers and what non-profit organisations can do about it: (The last biennial survey from NVPC shows a significant increase in the 55 to 64 age group, from eight percent in 2004 to 22 percent in 2010. For the 65 and above group, growth went up from four percent to 10 percent from 2004 to 2006, and hovered at around 10 percent in the following years.)

An RSVP senior guide at the Jalan Besar Heritage Trails in Singapore.

“I feel the biggest obstacle is the mindset of our seniors and of the rest of us towards seniors. First, I think some seniors may have a recipient mentality. They feel that they have worked hard all their lives and deserve a rest in their old age. I think this is the wrong concept of living. If we are part of the ageless generation, we should banish all talk about retirement. And it is certainly never too old to lend a helping hand or to volunteer in the community.

Specifically, when it comes to volunteering, seniors may think that giving is a sacrifice, it’s hardship. Anecdotally, we know that volunteers gain a lot more than they received. Studies have also show that the social motive is a social predictor of present volunteers and non-volunteers based on the motivation to increase social interactions, interpersonal relationships and friendships.

I think many seniors also come from a generation where volunteerism was not commonplace and they may not have had the experience of volunteering. We need to get them started in some way.

When seniors volunteer, they make terrific volunteers. Senior volunteers contribute more hours than the younger supporter. In Singapore, the median volunteer hours for all Singaporeans are 36 hours. The median hours contributed by seniors in Singapore was 104 hours!

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Senior volunteering – something for everyone

A senior tutoring and mentoring an elementary school student.

“I’ll be retirement age in April, and then I face the void,” my friend said to me a few weeks ago. When I asked what she meant, she said that she was afraid to retire. She loved her job, and derived much of her identify from her work. “I don’t know what to do next,” she replied.

Fortunately, there are many options for older adults after retirement. With the ageing of the world’s population, older adults are a naturally replenishing resource. And they have wealth of experience to share with others. Finding an organisation with which to volunteer can be fulfilling, and can be a big help to other people.

Are all older adults ready and willing to volunteer? The answer depends on several things. First, it depends on the nature of the volunteer job. Do you agree with the mission of the organisation? Does the organisation have a volunteer job that “fits” with your skills and interests? Do you receive on-the-job training? Are there easy ways to communicate with staff members, and are you kept “in the loop?” Are you recognised for your contributions?

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