As 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day, they are redefining what it means to reach this aging milestone. Some are delaying retirement. But whether they are working or not, many are embracing opportunities to contribute in new ways by volunteering, sharing a lifetime of knowledge and experience to improve the lives of people in their communities. But volunteering not only benefits society— research shows it can also pay big dividends in better health as you age.
If you volunteer for as little as two hours a week, or about 96 hours per year, you may experience improved mental, emotional and physical health—benefits that many older volunteers are reaping because, on average, they contribute almost twice as many hours as any other age group. Volunteering can help to reduce depression, lessen chronic pain and give your brain a boost. You may even live longer!
Do you need another reason to get on the volunteer bandwagon? With the number of volunteers age 65 and older expected to double in just a few years, chances are, you’ll be in good company as you reconnect with old friends or make new ones.
Volunteering May Improve Brain Health
- 8.6 million Americans are expected to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease— a fourfold increase—in the next 50 years.
- Research shows a positive link between volunteering and improved brain health.
- Volunteering “removed the cobwebs from my brain.”—A study participant.
Journal of Gerontology; 2009