Clare Oaks Blog
Posted: Wednesday, October 26, 2016
By: Clare Connection
Helping others is good for your health
Volunteering is a fulfilling way to give back to your community and gives you a sense of accomplishment. Now there’s a growing body of evidence that helping others leads to better health and that older volunteers are the ones most likely to benefit.
The Corporation for National & Community Services, a federal agency that fosters civic engagement through volunteering, found numerous studies indicating that volunteering provides health benefits.
One study the corporation cited in a review of recent research on volunteering looked at older people who volunteered for about 2 hours a week and compared them with a similar group who did not volunteer. The volunteers were less likely to report health problems, and the researchers concluded that there is a correlation between volunteering and better health. Several other studies found that older volunteers actually had a lower mortality rate than those who don’t volunteer. That pattern held true even for people with chronic and serious illnesses.
Volunteering also seems to result in better mental health and a more positive attitude that can in turn lead to better health. Researchers at Duke University compared people who started volunteering after having a heart attack with those who didn’t volunteer. The volunteers reported less depression and despair, two conditions that are linked to increased mortality in post-heart attack patients.
Another study found that older volunteers felt that they experienced positive changes in their health as a result of volunteer activities. As compared with younger volunteers, they also reported greater increases in life satisfaction, and it appears that the more people volunteer, the happier they are.
The London School of Economics did a study of people comparing those who volunteered once a week with those who volunteered once a month and others who didn’t volunteer at all. The folks who volunteered once a week were 16 percent more likely to say they were very happy than those who didn’t volunteer, and the once-a-month volunteers scored 7 percent higher on the happiness scale.
According to United Way, volunteering also helps people learn new skills, lessens symptoms like chronic pain, helps you get to know people who share your interests and helps you express gratitude—another attribute that contributes to happiness and a positive attitude.
The warm and friendly folks who live at Clare Oaks just naturally gravitate to volunteering, both inside the retirement community and all around the Chicago suburbs. Residents help their neighbors in many ways: they drive people who don’t drive on trips to the store or to health care appointments. A number of people participate as readers and in the choir at services in the Chapel, and deliver Communion to health care residents.
Clare Oaks residents donate to the Hanover Township Food Pantry, collect Toys for Tots at Christmas, and organize events like a chili cook-off to raise funds for charities. Later this month, several residents will be volunteering at the Village Church of Bartlett for the Feed My Starving Children MobilePack Event. This event aims to raise $22,000 for meals, and on Oct. 28th and 29th, 500 volunteers will gather to pack 100,000 meals for hungry children.
Clare Oaks residents truly are doing well by doing good!
Would you like to learn more about this extraordinary faith-based, continuing care retirement community? Please join us for one of our special events or call us at 630-372-1946.