Posted on Oct 17, 2014, 6 a.m.
Older men and women who volunteer for 2-3 hours a week enjoy physical, mental, and emotional benefits.
Volunteering is emerging as an anti-aging lifestyle essential. Nicole Anderson, from Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences (Canada), and colleagues completed a meta-analysis of 73 studies published over the last 45 years involving adults ages 50-plus who were involved in formal volunteering roles. The team observed that older adults who volunteered experienced reductions in symptoms of depression, better overall health, fewer functional limitations, and greater longevity. Health benefits of volunteerism appeared to peak at 100 volunteer hours annually, or 2-3 hours per week. More vulnerable seniors (such as those with chronic health conditions) may benefit the most from volunteering. Importantly, the study authors note that: “volunteering-related functional improvements should be associated with reduced dementia risk.”
Anderson ND, Damianakis T, Kroger E, Wagner LM, Dawson DR, et al; The BRAVO Team. “The Benefits Associated With Volunteering Among Seniors: A Critical Review and Recommendations for Future Research.” Psychol Bull. 2014 Aug 25.