The challenge to adapt to the slower pace of retired life is something many retirees struggle with for a long time after they stop working. This slowdown can lead to depression and other health, as well as personal, problems. However, there is a lot of evidence showing that seniors who decide to volunteer on a regular basis are in better health than those who do not perform regular work or volunteer activities.
A study released earlier this year added even more evidence to support the idea that volunteering is a good idea for seniors. Researchers in Baltimore studied a small group of women who volunteered to participate in a 15 hour per-week program. The women, average age 67, assisted elementary school librarians and teachers with varied tasks such as cataloging library resources, helping children read and leading occasional lessons.
The women showed remarkable improvement over the course of the six month program. Prior to beginning the program they all took cognitive function tests and scored relatively low results. After the six months, however, the researchers said the women all showed improvements, of an average of 40% higher than their previous scores. They also showed positive increases in brain activity.
The new study further supports the positive effects that volunteering have for seniors. Prior studies have shown that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate, lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and greater stamina and energy.