Yesterday we celebrated Memorial Day, a time to recognize all of those that served in our military to protect and serve our country. I am truly grateful for those that gave their lives to protect my freedom.
As I reflected on the day I began to think about others ways we can serve our communities and our country. I stumbled across several studies talking about volunteering as a positive catalyst for communities and our country.
There are several studies that specifically looked at healthy aging being positively associated with volunteering during and after retirement. Since I have been writing about healthy aging this month I thought this was a perfect way of combining the topics of service and healthy aging.
Baby boomers are the largest generation of retiring and aging Americans. They
will continue to be active, working, volunteering, and being socially active after the age of 65.
Volunteer work is a great vehicle to use to stay mentally engaged and active. Several government agencies see the societal benefit of having baby boomers as volunteers contributing to society through working with youth and other volunteer programs.
Several studies have found that when older Americans engage in volunteer work especially with youth and younger generations, they receive health benefits. The Center on Aging and Health at Johns Hopkins University conducted a study with Experience Corps, an organization where older Americans tutor and mentor urban school-aged children.
The director Linda Fried, MD compared the volunteers to people in the same age group not engaged in volunteer activities. The volunteers reported:
• Feeling physically stronger
• Few used canes to assist in walking
• Volunteers watched less TV on a daily basis
• An increased number of people they could turn to for help
• Virtually all reported satisfaction in their experience
• 80 percent returned to volunteering the next year
Volunteering in any area where you have an interest or a passion creates connections, improves social interaction and helps American over the age of 65 feel connected to life and health.