Nonprofit community leaders and people involved with organizations like the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) have known for years that older adults who volunteer are more engaged, interesting and healthier. And that knowledge is now backed up by a recent study from Carnegie Mellon. That study found that older adults who volunteer at least 200 hours a year are healthier than those who do not volunteer.
The study, published by the American Psychological Association’s Psychology and Aging journal, found that those who volunteer reduced their risk of hypertension by 40%. It suggests that volunteering may be an effective natural, social way to reduce hypertension, which often leads to heart disease.
The study is part of a trend researching how positive and negative lifestyle factors impact health, resilience and life. Older adults who reported volunteering in any capacity were less likely to develop hypertension than those who did not volunteer when evaluated four years later. The researchers found that the type of volunteer work was not a factor, however the amount of time volunteering was very significant.
The study’s co- author, Sneed discussed the implications of the study, saying: ”As people get older, social transitions like retirement, bereavement and the departure of children from the home often leave older adults with fewer natural opportunities for social interaction. Participating in volunteer activities may provide older adults with social connections that they might not have otherwise. There is strong evidence that having good social connections promotes healthy aging and reduces risk for a number of negative health outcomes.”
The study, conducted by Sneed and Cohen can be found on the Carnegie Mellon website, or by searching the Psychology and Aging Journal.
Anne Hays Egan
New Ventures Consulting
EzineArticles Expert Author
Post: Older Adults Who Volunteer Are Healthier
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