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With our Volunteer Program built to support elders during the COVID lockdown, we are coming across really special stories of elders who are trying to thrive.

 

On March 28th, 8:10 PM, we got a call on our Elder Helpline from an 83-year-old man who lives all alone in Vaishali, Ghaziabad. He sounded very helpless and asked us if we could help him get his vital medicines as he couldn’t go out because of the COVID. 

 

Health Benefits

Studies have clearly shown that there are definite health benefits for senior volunteers. These benefits include higher levels of a sense of wellbeing and reduction of stress. Volunteering helps to keep older adults engaged and their minds active which can positively contribute to a person’s cognitive health. The National Institution of Aging reported that seniors with a sense of purpose who contribute in meaningful ways can lower their risk of dementia and other health problems.

Retirement can symbolically mark the end of our middle years, due to the huge lifestyle change that people are too often unprepared for. Medical advancements in recent decades have increased longevity, but our social system has struggled to keep up. Thus people live longer, but the social structure doesn’t often promote a fulfilling old age. Many seniors go through a period of trial and error after retirement, in search of new meaning and purpose. This is a normal process that is crucial for happiness in old age.

Just as people find purpose and satisfaction in being involved with things that they value, seniors also find fulfillment in volunteering. A study done by Nicole Anderson, whose findings were presented at the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics on seniors who volunteered, established that seniors who volunteered weekly for 3-4 hours had a significant improvement in their cognitive function. Not just this. Volunteering, for most, has had a positive effect on their physical and emotional capacities.

The study, led by University of Pittsburgh researcher Fengyan Tang, surveyed more than 200 volunteers ages 50 or older. The volunteers were from varied socioeconomic backgrounds and had contributed an average of six hours a week to nonprofit or government programs with services ranging from legal consultation to meal preparation to helping with computer skills.
 

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