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Transitions in Aging

Community Participation

Volunteer Activities

Photo of volunteers serving food

  • Offering our time to improve our community!

NEXT: How to Engage in Volunteer Activities

Notes and References

Another way to maintain a productive role post-retirement is to volunteer our time at local community agencies and organizations.

We can volunteer our time in many different ways; such as participating in community service or a community clean up, helping at a local homeless shelter or a food drive, and offering our time to help others at the hospital. Some things that may motivate us to volunteer include a desire to help others, the opportunity for social interaction and making friends, to fill free time and avoid being bored, and to feel productive or have a purpose.1,2 Volunteering provides us with opportunities to use our knowledge and skills, to develop new skills, to express our freedom of choice, and to broaden our social networks.3 Research shows that volunteering can be really beneficial for us, especially after retirement.4,5 It can give us a sense of purpose, improve our well-being, improve the functioning of our minds, decrease feelings of depression and improve our life satisfaction.4,5,6


  1. Okun, M. A. (1994) The relation between motives for organizational volunteering and frequency of volunteering by elders, Journal of Applied Gerontology, 13(2), 115-126.
  2. Warburton, J., Terry, D. J., Rosenman, L. S. & Shapiro, M. (2001) Differences between older volunteers and nonvolunteers, Research on Aging, 23(5), 586-605.
  3. Balandin, S., Llewellyn, G., Dew, A., Ballin, L., & Schneider, J. (2006). Older disabled workers' perceptions of volunteering. Disability & Society, 21(7), 677-692.
  4. Wheeler, J. A., Gorey, K. M. & Greenblatt, B. (1998) The beneficial effects of volunteering for older volunteers and the people they serve: a meta-analysis, International Journal of Aging & Human Development, 47(1), 69-79.
  5. Fesko, S. L., Hall, A. C., Quinlan, J., & Jockell, C., (2012). Active aging for individuals with intellectual disability: Meaningful community participation through employment, retirement, service, and volunteerism. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 117(6), 497-508.
  6. Stancliffe, R. J., Bigby, C., Balandin, S., Wilson, N. J., & Craig, D. (2015). Transition to retirement and participation in mainstream community groups using active mentoring: A feasibility and outcomes evaluation with a matched comparison group. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 59(8), 703-718.