Did you know that the United States has over 26 million senior volunteers? These volunteers give an average of 4.4 hours per week for a total of 5.5 billion hours each year! The work they do would cost $70.5 billion in paid wages.
RSVP, a federally-funded program through Senior Corps, matches volunteers 55 and older in volunteer programs throughout the community. WISE & Healthy Aging serves RSVP as the site for the greater West Los Angeles area and facilitates volunteer referrals to more than 50 nonprofit organizations. “We are proud to have 700 volunteers as part of RSVP,” states Petula Storey, director of Volunteer Services.
There are numerous benefits for the volunteers themselves. For years research has shown that volunteering improves the quality of life for older adults and is generally advantageous to their health and well-being.
An analysis found that individuals over 70 who volunteered approximately 100 hours had less of a decline in self-reported health and functioning levels, experienced lower levels of depression, and had more longevity.
Men who did no volunteer work at all were two and a half times more likely to die during the 10-year period, and men and women who volunteered at least once a week were 40 percent more likely to be alive after the 10 years. Yale, Johns Hopkins, the National Institute of Mental Health, and studies from abroad support these findings.
Research shows that older adults who volunteer have fewer health problems than those who do not. One study found that the positive effect of volunteering on physical and mental health is due to the sense of accomplishment an individual gains from his or her volunteer activities. Another study found that volunteering led to lower rates of depression in individuals 65 and older. A Duke study found that individuals who volunteered after experiencing heart attacks reported reductions in despair and depression.
Cognitive & Mental Well-Being
Using our brains in new and different ways is important in maintaining memory health. Volunteering helps keep the brain engaged.
Doctors at Harvard and the University of California at San Francisco have prescribed volunteerism for stress reduction in their “type A” patients. In addition, volunteering allows older adults to continue to be involved in meaningful roles.
Join the millions of people who help others and themselves by volunteering! Call RSVP at WISE & Healthy Aging at 310.394.9871, ext. 450 for information.