Seniors And Retirees: Our Time Is Now
The recent presidential inauguration ceremony was an inspiring yet sobering reminder of the challenges that collectively we face as Americans. But there’s a silver lining for many of us: Seniors and retirees possess life experience and expertise that our nation dearly needs to address these challenges. Let’s see how we can help.
Using our advantages
Seniors and retirees have advantages that aren’t enjoyed by many other Americans. Most of us don’t worry about losing our jobs or our health insurance. Most of us don’t have young children in the house who are learning at home. Our time isn’t typically taken up by a whole list of daily “must dos.” These advantages give us the capacity to volunteer our time and expertise to help others.
Seniors and retirees are also in the best position to donate a portion of their financial resources, according to a recent report from Age Wave and Merrill Lynch. This report also estimates that the total value of seniors’ volunteering and giving is $8 trillion! This estimate reflects both financial donations and also the value of the 58 billion hours that seniors as a group are projected to volunteer over the course of two decades.
This potential stimulus package doesn’t need an act of Congress—it just needs acts of will and compassion from all of us.
Giving gives back to us
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In addition to benefiting others, volunteering and donating also have the potential to significantly improve seniors’ health and life satisfaction. For example, one report from the Stanford Center on Longevity states, “Compared to their non-volunteering counterparts, older adults who volunteer have reduced risk of hypertension, lower mortality rates, delayed physical disability, enhanced cognition, lower rates of depression, and report higher levels of life satisfaction, and decreased physical dependency.” The report identifies the substantial research that supports this conclusion.
The Age Wave/Merrill Lynch report contains similar conclusions, sharing that seven out of 10 retirees say that being generous is an important source of happiness in their retirement years. One reason for this: Volunteering can help build social connections that can enhance your physical and mental health. Donating your time can help combat loneliness, a serious health risk in your senior years.
Indeed, seniors and retirees represent a valuable national resource. Dr. Laura Carstensen, director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, adds that “the number of older people in the world is the only natural resource that’s actually growing.”
President Biden’s inaugural address reminded us of the challenges we face: the pandemic, economic recovery, economic inequalities and poverty, social injustice, global warming, the education of the next generation, and political division. Think of it as a menu of challenges—pick the cause or causes that best resonate with you, and find a way to give back.
President Biden’s inspiring inaugural address reminded me of the first inaugural address that I remember hearing—the one from John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for the country.” Kennedy challenged every American to contribute in some way to the public good.
Seniors and retirees: It’s now time for all hands on deck!