Do your brain a favour - volunteer!
There are many good reasons for volunteering, whether you want to give back to your community, aspire to develop a new skill or want to expand your social network. But have you considered the health benefits of volunteering? Keeping your brain in shape is another important reason for volunteering, and a healthy brain is vital for healthy aging.
Volunteering not only engages your mind and body, but it can actually help you age well and reduce the risk of age-related diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Healthy reasons to volunteer
- Improve your physical and mental well-being
Meeting new people and engaging in new activities can boost endorphins, those “feel-good” brain cells that keep your heart pumping, your mind sharp, and your immune system working. They also help lower stress.
- Build self-esteem and confidence
The satisfaction of knowing you've made a positive difference in someone's life increases your own self- worth and confidence. If you're experiencing difficult times, volunteering has the extra advantage of giving you a sense of purpose.
- Expand your network of social support
Connecting with new people in different settings helps open your mind to new perspectives, widens your social network and reduces depression and isolation.
- Live longer and healthier
Staying engaged and curious about your world helps keep you young at heart and feeling vibrant. The bottom line is that life-long learning is key for improving quality of life and for healthy aging.
Volunteering is easy! Consider your own interests and skills, then think of who might benefit. It could be as easy as tutoring young people in a subject you enjoy, lending a hand at your community theatre, or joining a board at a local group or charity.
Whatever you do, start early. The sooner you start volunteering, the greater the benefits you'll reap later on in life.
If you've been thinking about volunteering at the Alzheimer Society, learn about opportunities by contacting your local chapter.
Janice Howard: Transforming through volunteering
Elizabeth Whitton: Receiving more than you give
Betty Poole: A lifetime of volunteering
Last Updated: 03/31/14