The Sixth Domain: Work and Civic Engagement

An age-friendly community actively engages older adults in community life and has opportunities for residents to work for pay or volunteer their skills. Older people can increase their quality of life from active involvement in voluntary activities or work, providing satisfaction and social engagement.

A variety of volunteer and employment opportunities should offer choices that meet diverse preferences, needs and skills. Key to this process is an awareness on the vacancies available, connecting seniors to these opportunities. In addition to job access, entrepreneurial opportunities are another way to support seniors’ participation in the workforce and increase their self-sufficiency.

Transporation is an important consideration in this domain, lessening physicial barriers in accessing the volunteer or job opportunity.

Continuing education is another essential element of an age-friendly community and this domain, helping older adults stay current and connected.

And a final component of this domain is the ability for older people to be involved in the political process. They must have access to platforms to voice their concerns and views to government officials and be involved in decision-making on issues that may impact them.

Senior Couple Working in Soup Kitchen

There are both physical and mental benefits associated with active engagement in work or volunteering, particularly when it involves going to a workplace and interacting with others. Not to mention the fact that most people could use the extra money.

Research has shown that adults having a post-career job or active in volunteer work have fewer major diseases and functional limitations. Increased cognition or the slowing of cognitive decline have also been demonstrated as these activities involve learning new things, what psychologists call “novelty processing”. And from a social standpoint, working beyond retirement provides a much-needed sense of connection and purpose.

Older employees bring much more than professional competence to work and volunteer opportunities, they bring life experience. Some positions are ideally suited for seasoned professionals who can offer both work and wisdom. From consultants to counselors, tutors to tour guides, retirement-age opportunities are readily available, if you know how to find them.

We are actively working on iniatives and programs that address the gaps in work and civic engagement in Door County. Although there are plenty of volunteer opportunities here, a central point of information is lacking. This is fundemental to accessing opportunities that cater to diverse preferences, needs and skills.

And there are certainly jobs abound in Door County, but how does a person know that an employer is prepared to employ an older adult. Employers need to consider potential decreased functional abilities, hearing or vision impairment, and even more so the mature attitudes of a senior.

We are developing one such program called MatchUp. This program has a process of evaluating an employer’s readiness to maintain an older adult in work as well as a way to help an older adult identify the type of work that is most beneficial and available. Keep an eye out for more information in the coming months.