Older Americans can experience the health benefits of volunteerism

August 20, 2013

Older Americans can experience the health benefits of volunteerism

Nonprofits sometimes struggle to get people interested in coming to volunteer events, but the insights from recent research conducted by Carnegie Mellon University may help incentivize some older Americans to seek out opportunities at local organizations. The findings revealed older adults who volunteer for at least 200 hours per year decrease their risk of hypertension, or high blood pressure, by 40 percent. If nonprofits show the health benefits of donating time to a nonprofit, participation levels may can pick up throughout the nation.

Volunteering keeps retirees active
According to an article for The Kansas City Star, many Americans are trying to delay retirement because they want to continue doing something they love, and they don't want to leave a profession that they have a passion for. Nonprofits should take this into account and provide older adults with opportunities to do something enjoyable after they are done working.

Coming of age is often tough for Americans, and many want to maintain youthful lives. Nonprofits offer the perfect opportunity to work with people both young and old, while staying active in a work environment. Touting the health benefits of charitable work through marketing channels can put organizations in a position to gain more support from their elder following.

"Participating in volunteer activities may provide older adults with social connections that they might not have otherwise," said Rodlescia Sneed, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology in CMU's Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. "There is strong evidence that having good social connections promotes healthy aging and reduces risk for a number of negative health outcomes."

Whether it be providing volunteer initiatives to carry out bookkeeping or helping feed the homeless, nonprofits offer older Americans an opportunity to stay active and healthy.

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