Three of the cornerstones for ensuring a healthy life as we age are remaining physically active, keeping our minds mentally sharp, and maintaining and building social networks. I believe these are also three benefits of volunteering.
As the CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), I get daily reminders about the benefits of volunteering – especially from the senior population. And these volunteers are the backbone of the work the national service family does in thousands of locations across the country.
Seniors are serving and making a difference in our nation’s communities, volunteering to help through faith-based groups, schools, disaster response organizations, shelters, food banks, and countless other programs.
And the evidence suggests that volunteering and service also has health benefits for those performing the service. CNCS studies have found that older volunteers report lower mortality and depression rates, fewer physical limitations, and higher levels of well-being.
Our agency engages more than 270,000 Americans in service each year through our Senior Corps Foster Grandparent, RSVP, and Senior Companion programs. Additionally, CNCS helps nearly 5 million other citizens get involved in service activities across this great land of ours.
Last year, more than 20.7 million older Americans devoted more than 3.3 billion hours to service to communities across the nation either as volunteers or by serving their families, friends, and neighbors. America’s seniors are a vital part of our nation, and their service is a win-win for everyone involved.
At the 2015 White House Conference on Aging on Monday, July 13, we will learn more about focusing on healthy aging and taking advantage of the opportunities of aging, like volunteering. More and more, older adults are seeking ways to maximize their physical, mental, and social well-being to remain independent and active as they age.
We want to help as many seniors as possible experience the benefits of volunteering and national service, especially those baby boomers like myself who still feel the desire to change the world. We encourage them to visit our Senior Corps site, learn more about those programs, and find volunteering opportunities in their community.
Wendy Spencer is the CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that engages more than 5 million Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs.