This article is reprinted by permission from NextAvenue.org. Craig Coleman of Springfield, Vermont, believes that volunteering is a way to live the Golden Rule. He certainly acts on that belief, volunteering with Meals on Wheels, Senior Solutions, Volunteers in Action (VIA), and the Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, which honored the 76-year-old Coleman with its President’s Award earlier this year.
““Volunteering adds more years to your life — and life to your years.””
— Atalaya Sergi, director of AmeriCorps Seniors
Volunteering, he says, has deepened his spirituality and allowed him to express his personal faith. Coleman exemplifies the millions of older Americans who donate their time to serving others. According to AmeriCorps’ most recent survey, 30.7% of boomer-age Americans (those 56 to 74 years old) and 36.4% of GenXers (aged 40 to 55) volunteered in 2019, contributing about four billion hours of service to their chosen causes.Giving is good for your health “Older Americans give community organizations consistent support and those served feel comfortable with trusted community members,” says Atalaya Sergi, director of AmeriCorps Seniors. At the same time, a growing body of research suggests that older adult often reap significant mental and physical health benefits by volunteering, including lower mortality rates, increased strength and energy, lower rates of depression and fewer physical limitations. “Volunteering adds more years to your life — and life to your years,” Sergi says. Carnegie Mellon University researchers found that older adults who volunteered were less likely to develop high blood pressure (which contributes to heart disease and stroke) than those who didn’t volunteer. A 2021 article in the scientific journal Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition reports that volunteering was associated with better working memory and improved cognition among 91 volunteers aged 65 to 75. “We like the term do good, feel good — meaning service to others helps others and their communities but also helps the volunteer,” says Cathy Aliberti, director of the Green Mountain Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), a program of AmeriCorps Seniors. “Our volunteers are age 55 or older, with an average age of 74. They have the time, experience, and drive to volunteer and help their communities. It is a reason to get up and ready for the day. There is a wellness benefit by engaging with others. Read: Need ideas for your retirement ‘second act’?Caring before and after …