They say with age comes wisdom, and the adage certainly rings true. With decades of experience navigating life’s many trials, triumphs, heartbreaks and joys, you’ve learned a lot about the world, yourself and other people.
Simply put: older adults have so much to offer, and sharing the wisdom and knowledge you’ve gained through the years can be of great value not only to the younger generations, but to your own life. Research shows that wisdom-sharing offers significant benefits for both young people and older adults.
Sharing your wisdom is an excellent way to deepen your sense of purpose and contribute more to your community. Read on for some creative ways to share your valued experiences and impart your wisdom onto your children, grandchildren and others.
Older adults have so much experience and expertise to share, but after retirement it may be challenging to find a place or people to share these talents with. Volunteering is an excellent way to stay engaged with your community and connect with people of all ages. Research shows that volunteering can be beneficial for seniors’ health, life expectancy and even improve your overall quality of life.
Depending on your interests and skill set, you may want to consider volunteering at your local library, hospital or charitable organization. If you want to work with younger people, look for programs in your area that pair senior volunteers with children. The AmeriCorps Seniors Foster Grandparent Program, for example, matches older adults with children in their neighborhood to provide educational support from a grandparent-figure for low-income young people.
Write your life story
Writing out your life story — particularly the parts you want to share with others — is a powerful way to reflect on your life and reflect on all you’ve experienced over the years. Lessons you’ve learned throughout your life can be treasured by family members for years to come. If you want to share your wisdom with a wider audience, blogging is a good way to reach people of all ages around the world.
It can be difficult to know where to start, so you may find it helpful to write about each decade of your life and what you lived through, experienced and learned. Or, write about important life events (e.g., school years, navigating relationships, raising children) and the insights you gained during those times that others may benefit from reading. Be sure to include things that were important to you throughout your life, such as your values and morals. You may want to include how your perspective has shifted throughout the years. Chances are, you saw life through a different lens at 55 than you did at 25!
If you’re more of a hands-on, crafty type of person, you may enjoy scrapbooking your life story. Scrapbooking is a great way to showcase your life in photos along with captions that explain the image and what life was like when the photo was taken.
Dig out your old photo albums and mementos you’d like to include in the scrapbook, such as old concert ticket stubs, mementos or treasured items you’d like to pass down to loved ones. Under each photo, consider writing captions or important messages you’d like to share about that time in your life — including what you might say to your younger self if you could, or what you might have done differently if you had the perspective you do now.
Elder wisdom circle
Through your life experience, you’ve learned many life lessons and likely have a lot of good advice to give on everything from family, friendship, school, dating and careers. If you’d be interested in serving as a mentor or coach, the Elder Wisdom Circle is a wonderful way to share your wisdom with teens and younger people all over the world. This web-based nonprofit pairs younger advice seekers with seniors — known as “cyber grandparents” on the site — who provide supportive advice based on their life experiences. Everything is posted using pseudonyms, so your privacy is protected and confidentiality is assured.
Become a mentor
Multigenerational mentorship is a perfect opportunity to form mutually beneficial relationships with younger people who can benefit from your time, attention and wisdom. Offering yourself as a mentor can be an excellent way to make meaningful connections and share your advice with children, teens and young adults. As a mentor, you can feel good knowing you’re making a positive impact on a young person’s life.
There are many organizations that help make connections between seniors and youth. Not sure where to start? The Gerontological Society of America offers a mentorship program, Mentor Match, that is designed to connect older adults with young people who are looking for mentorship in various areas of life. You can register as a mentor and identify potential mentees on their website. Or, inquire at your local community center or contact the National Area Agency on Aging for mentorship opportunities near you.