In 2015, 62.8 million Americans volunteered 7.9 billion hours of their time. Older adults and baby boomers made up approximately 4.8 billion of those hours. In addition, adults over 75 volunteer more than any other generation, averaging 100 hours.1 We’re thankful for volunteers like you, but does this mean anything for your health? Of course it does!
Volunteer hours are good for your health
Being part of a community and getting involved requires time and energy on your part, but it is a great way to boost your own sense of well-being, even your overall health. This is especially true for older adults!
For 20 years, growing research has shown that people who volunteer have lower rates of depression and mortality than people who don’t. Those who spend the most time volunteering — up to 100 hours each year — are more likely to experience health benefits.
The Corporation for National and Community Service says older volunteers are even more likely to benefit from volunteering than other age groups. Having a sense of purpose and connecting with other people helps relieve stress. And we know less stress equals better health!
Finding opportunities to give back
There are numerous ways to give back, from religious, educational and health organizations to community and youth services. Volunteer opportunities cover a diverse range of needs and people of all ages and abilities can make a difference.
With options ranging from local to national, on-site and at-home, you can volunteer with friends, family, your church or social groups to make the experience even better.
Many of us have a desire to volunteer, but aren’t sure where to start, or where we’ll make the most impact. First off, take a look at yourself. Are you passionate about children, homelessness, hunger, politics or the environment? Serve meals at a local food bank, volunteer at a neighborhood school, plant trees or do park/beach clean-up days. You can try them all, or come up with something different! Just get out there and try something.