The Surprising Healthy Benefits of Volunteering

By Helen Porter, CTRS, CADDCT, Executive Director of South High Senior Living

As a recreational therapist, I certainly believe in the power of play. Every senior living community should offer a wide variety of opportunities and a stellar activities program. As a part of an Integral Senior Living (ISL) community, one component of our programming is “ISL Inspires.” I’ve loved it from the beginning, knowing that repurposing and getting seniors involved in their community was important – and fun! However, when I learned about the statistics of volunteering, the purpose of the ISL Inspires and the need for it was greatly reinforced and brought on an even deeper meaning.

When it comes to leading a healthy life and adding quality years and longevity, we’re all willing to try new things – exercises, fad diets, or the newest supplements. And that’s not just seniors. The answer could be much more simple than we ever thought – just help out. Volunteer your time!

Studies have found some amazing benefits of purely sharing your time! It gives a whole new meaning to the idea that you have to give to get. In one study, individuals over 50 who were volunteering had 38% fewer nights spent in the hospital. In a Carnegie Mellon study, 200 hours of volunteering per year correlated to lower blood pressure. And that’s not all. An AARP study stated that “70% of volunteers who initially reported five or more symptoms of depression reported fewer symptoms at the end of the first year.” The National Institute on Aging has stated that participating in meaningful social activities, like volunteering, can improve longevity, improve mental health, and reduce the risk of dementia.

So how do we all get more time? We give it.

South High Senior Living
835 Tipton Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37920