Why does early retirement continue to be linked to earlier death? The most obvious reason is those retiring earlier may be less healthy than older retirees. Personality type also plays a role. People who have low self-control, low persistence and failure to do long-term planning, have a higher mortality after retirement.

On the other hand, those who volunteer after they retire are more likely to live longer, according to research conducted in Italy and reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Senior Focus . A fixable factor for early death after retirement was loneliness. The article, written by Dr. John Morley, St. Louis University School of Medicine, emphasizes the importance of staying connected to others. Helping others that are less fortunate can instill and develop an empathetic attitude, which is a necessary part of staying connected and reducing stress levels caused by excessive loneliness. Identify charities that speak to your heart and volunteer your time or talents to bring joy into someone else’s life. The feel-good endorphins promote lower blood pressure and higher energy levels.

According to the book, “Longevity Rules,” our choices are a reflection of who we really are. The collaborative book project goes even further to suggest that when it comes to human beings, the capacity to teach and share wisdom and other skills are just as important as the capacity to reproduce.

Giving of your time is a natural aspect of aging since wisdom is generally associated with the experience that comes from living a long life. Altruistic actions are often the result of past experiences, emotional intelligence, and knowledge gained over the course of a lifetime that initiate and inspire our compassionate natures. To jump start your volunteer pursuits, focus on a specific charity that is important to you, or one that advocates research for a specific illness that may have claimed the life of a loved one.

Perhaps you prefer to mentor young children by volunteering to read during story time at a local library, school or day care. If you have a soft spot for animals, donate a few hours a week to an animal shelter. There is no shortage of worthy causes that can benefit from your donation of time and experience. Local chapters of national organizations, such as Kiwanis Club or the Boys and Girls Club of America are all about giving and sharing your time. Although flashing an impressive resume might get you a job, in the world of volunteering, it’s your physical presence that really matters. If you have a teaching or counseling background, there will be no shortage of volunteer positions to choose from. By availing yourself to new opportunities within the heart of your community, you will receive invaluable and infinite rewards in return.

Draw from the pool of valuable assets you possess as a result of your lifelong profession. Parlay your wisdom into a mentoring tool to seek out organizations within your field of expertise that match young entrepreneurs with retired professionals. Sharing acquired knowledge and experience not only helps younger generations, but it also renews validation of your professional worth. Local colleges, universities, hospitals and community centers are also good sources of information when seeking out potential mentoring and volunteering assignments.

Consider a compassionate career, in which volunteerism is the only criteria. In Canada, there is a term called “Zenployment,” which has caught on and refers to any kind of work, including self-employment that you choose after you retire from your regular career, with the goal aimed at making a difference. The surprising trend has caught on with large numbers of dissatisfied professionals dedicating at least a portion of their productive years to a meaningful cause. Starting in their mid-thirties, many professionals are choosing to dedicate time to be of service in a second career that offers fulfilment and the chance to make a difference by the age of 45.

A 2013 report published in the journal Psychology and Aging did a comprehensive analysis on previous studies that focused on the health benefits of volunteerism. Researchers from Arizona State University and the University of Michigan were clearly able to cite instances where volunteering was proven to boost satisfaction in relationships, and reduced stress levels in tested subjects. In addition, subjects who had become recently widowed were shown to recover faster from depression by volunteering.

Volunteering after retirement gives you the opportunity to explore new fields of interest and pursue your passions. Decide which skills you would like to develop and contact businesses or organizations that fit the bill to offer apprenticing services or other useful skills. For instance, offer to assist with patient registration at a local vet’s office if you have a love for animals.

Without the stress of having to bring home the bacon, you may tap into a reserve of talent and skills that have been waiting patiently to be explored with ease. Time is on your side when it comes to sharing it. The benefits you get back from volunteering are immeasurable and can include new friendships and acquaintances and increased mental stamina, to name just a few. The feel-good endorphins received from giving your time are an added bonus.

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