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Senior's health improves by volunteering

(NC) Canadian senior citizens who volunteer are not only positively impacting their communities they are improving their health in the process, recent research reveals.

“I work with a 96-year-old man who has been volunteering with the Canadian Diabetes Association for 10 years,” says Erin Spink, past president of the Ontario branch of the Professional Administrators of Volunteer Resources. “He was drawn to the organization because his son died of Type 1 diabetes and he wanted to give back. Volunteering helps keep his brain sharp and active. For example, he knows every postal code in Canada and is responsible for checking all mailings. ”

Two independent studies in 2000 and 2002 found that volunteering two hours per week (100 hours annually) is related to positive health outcomes, including good self-rated health, fewer limitations in daily living and lower mortality rates. Furthermore, a 2008 study in a long-term care setting revealed residents who participated in volunteer activity experienced slower health deterioration than those who did not volunteer. “Retirees who give of their time to others experience better health than those who don't,” points out Dr. Ben Gottlieb, a University of Guelph psychology professor who has been researching the positive health benefits of volunteering among seniors. “Some of the health benefits include better cardiovascular function, less arthritis pain, lower stress, anxiety and depression and overall increased self-esteem and sense of value.”

In 2010, Canadian seniors collectively volunteered more than 372 million hours according to Statistics Canada. Many of them say that they hear about volunteer opportunities through family, friends, volunteer centres and online at

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