Retired Occupational Therapists' Experiences in Volunteer Occupations

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As the baby boomer generation, born 1945-1963, begins its transition to retirement, what might be the position of volunteering within their new life structure? Using retired occupational therapists as a purposive sample ( n = 50), this survey provides a description of the volunteer experience in three distinct phases: 1) Pre-retirement contemplation and preparation; 2) Actions, thoughts and feelings during the volunteer experience; and 3) Thoughts and feelings related to ending their volunteer roles. Results reveal that while retirees are highly motivated by altruism and the wish to stay engaged and connected with others through volunteering, they often find the existing structure of the organizations unable and unwilling to provide the kinds of volunteer roles that meet their needs and goals. These findings closely align with evidence from multidisciplinary and public health literature on civic engagement in the Third Age, retired but not disabled. In conclusion, results imply three new roles for occupational therapy practitioners with volunteering: 1) Promoting volunteer exploration and participation for older adult clients with disabilities; 2) Providing group interventions for Third Agers transitioning to retirement; and 3) Consulting with the organizations that depend on volunteers to guide them in revising the way they define and organize volunteer roles. Study is limited to one specific population but paves the way for replication with a broader range of participants.