Adjusting to his new life in New York City wasn’t easy for eight-year-old Tanitoluwa Adewumi, a homeless refugee from Nigeria. Kids teased him because he lived in a homeless shelter. Tani’s outlook changed when he joined his school’s chess club, where he grew to love the game. After only a year of playing, Tani was crowned New York State’s chess champion in the K-3 age group, defeating players from prestigious schools with private chess tutors. When he discovered chess he found more than just a game he enjoyed—he discovered his purpose.
Likewise, your clients need to have a purpose in retirement. Many find that adjusting to their new lifestyle in retirement isn’t easy. They envision retirement as a fun-filled life of leisure, but it just doesn’t bring the satisfaction they’d hoped for. Day after day of endless free time can become monotonous. However, many retirees have found that helping young people gave them a renewed sense of purpose in retirement. It can work for your clients, too.
Beware, Isolation may come with retirement
Source: Senior Isolation: America’s Quietest Health Risk, MedicareAdvantage.com, 2017. Most recent data available.
What Are Intergenerational Interactions?
Intergenerational interactions are about developing meaningful relationships with younger people. Rather than short-term or infrequent volunteering, the goal of intergenerational interactions is for aging adults to develop sustained relationships with young people for three-to-six months or longer.
Being a pillar in a young person’s life passes a baton of wisdom to the next generation
Many aging adults enjoy sharing their experiences, skills, and wisdom, with young people in need of guidance and direction. Whether they are 8 or 28 years old, there is something valuable that your aging clients can pass on to them.
For example, Ray Navarro, a participant in the US Government’s Foster Grandparents program, had deteriorating eyesight, he was unemployed, and feeling depressed. Then he began tutoring kids at his local elementary school. He enjoyed it and found that it provided a new purpose in his life. Plus, the kids loved learning from Ray.
Why working with young people can reenergize your Clients' retirements
Isolation is a serious health risk as clients grow older. Forty-three percent of seniors experience loneliness,1 which can increases the chance of heart attacks, strokes, depression, anxiety and early death.2
When they retire, they leave behind the built-in social network that their coworkers provided. Eventually, friends will pass away. Health challenges may affect their mobility, making it difficult to leave home.
Intergenerational interactions can help fight isolation since it typically results in a consistent, meaningful engagement that is planned in advance. This can motivate clients to get out of the house and can help stave off loneliness.
Lacking a purpose is also a retirement risk
During clients' careers, work provides a purpose. They're productive and they're needed. When they stop working, they may miss that sense of purpose that work provided.
Working with younger people can reinvigorate that sense of purpose. It’s rewarding for clients to share the skills and lessons they've learned throughout life to help a young person overcome challenges in his or her life. From a childhood English teacher that motivated an young author to pursue a writing career to a football coach that helped an young athlete hone their natural abilities, people often attribute their success to people that encouraged them throughout their formative years. Many retirees find that working with young people can transform both their and their mentee’s life for the better.
How Clients Can Find Opportunities to Help Young People
Regardless of clients' backgrounds, there are a variety of ways to get involved. Here are some organizations for them to consider:
- AARP’s Experience Corps – The Experience Corps program matches aging adults with children at high-need elementary schools for tutoring.
- Foster Grandparents – A program that allows volunteers age 55+ to care for ailing children, mentor troubled teenagers and young mothers, and help students learn to read.
- Little League – Clients can become a little league coach or coach’s assistant. They can also help out with field maintenance or become an umpire.
- Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts – Being a scout leader or assisting with troop meetings provides a way to help prepare young children for a lifetime of leading.
- Peace Corp – Clients can explore the world while helping to improve the health and education of young people in a foreign country.
- Get2Gen – Clients can enter their location in this search webpage to find a variety of volunteer opportunities to help young people.
When To Get Started
Client's don’t have to wait until they're in a rut to find their new purpose. If they get bored with a retirement life of leisure, they'll be scrambling to find something interesting to do. Suggest they find a new purpose before they retire. They can try out different opportunities to engage with young people and find out if working with them, and in what capacity, is a good fit for them.
Clients might think, “Wait a Sec, I’m Not Sure I Have the Skills to Work With Young People”
Trying something new can be daunting. Perhaps clients won't be sure how to interact with kids or even if kids will gravitate toward them. These are valid concerns. However, clients can be assured, they don’t need a master’s degree in teaching to be able to relate to young people. Rather, a sheer willingness to help is crucial to a successful experience.
Enthusiasm translates well when working with the young. Being excited about the opportunity makes the younger individuals excited to be in a client's company. Also, clients may find that the skills that made them successful in the workplace may serve them well when working with kids, but the most important trait will be their enthusiasm to get involved.
Remember These Things About Clients Helping Young People in Retirement
First, intergenerational interactions are all about volunteering to develop sustained relationships with young people who could use some help in life. Second, working with young people can help clients avoid the big retirement risks of isolation and lacking purpose. Third, there are many organizations to choose from. Finally, clients can try volunteering to help young people before they retire.
Retirement Satisfaction Starts With Having a Purpose
Many people can’t wait to retire after decades of work. When it finally happens, they enjoy a spike in happiness while they enjoy some well-earned rest and relaxation. But that honeymoon phase of retirement is often followed by a sharp decline in happiness a few years later.3 Don’t let that happen in your clients' retirements. Like Tani, the young chess champ, help clients find their purpose and make a difference.
- Download the client piece below and share it with aging clients
- View or email a client version of this web page to clients
- Visit the Gen2Gen website and watch some of these videos. You'll get ideas about the possibilities about how aging clients could work with young people.
1Senior Isolation: America’s Quietest Health Risk, MedicareAdvantage.com, 2017. Most recent data available.
2One in Three Seniors Is Lonely. Here’s How It’s Hurting Their Health, Time, 3/4/19
3Retiring minds want to know, American Psychological Association, 1/14. Most recent data available.
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