Maggie Jackson notes (Balancing Acts: Age Discrimination, Business Section, Boston Globe, July 27, 2008: G1, G4) that seniors have three motives for seeking work: to make money, to stay active, and "giving back."
Those of us who do not need to continue working for financial reasons can easily find worthwhile occupations as volunteers.
Many places need voluntary labor. You can find information on volunteer opportunities at http://volunteerboston.org/ or http://www.volunteermatch.org/. Many kinds of volunteer placements are available: there are placements that fit the extroverted (tutoring) and others that fit the introverted (stuffing envelopes).
I do recording for the blind a couple of mornings a week. I started to do this because one of my good friends had a period of temporary blindness when his retinas had detached. After six months, laser surgery had put him partially to rights and he could see well enough with one eye. But during his months of blindness, he had to rely on talking books and recorded journals to keep up with our academic field. I thought that a good way to honor him would be to do some of that recording -- a classic case of "giving back."
Of course, in this election year, political campaigns -- from President to town council -- are looking for volunteers to go out into the community and pass on the candidate's message. But there are non-partisan political opportunities too: many good government organizations need volunteers to plan fund-raisers, send out mailings, and generally keep the office running on a shoe-string. My choice was Common Cause where I volunteer a couple of times a week.
So, if you don't need paid employment, do not despair: there is no age discrimination in the volunteer sector.
Sent to Boston Globe