In cities across the country, older Americans are donating their time and expertise in record numbers, new data from the Corporation for National and Community Service shows.
According to data released during Senior Corps Week (May 6-10), senior volunteering hit a ten-year high in 2011, as more than twenty million older Americans donated nearly three billion hours of services valued at $67 billion. CNCS also found that one in three volunteers is age 55 or older; that the percentage of seniors volunteering increased from 25.1 percent in 2002 to 31.2 percent in 2011; and that 72.4 percent of older adults — higher than the national average — provided informal favors such as helping out a neighbor.
Previous research has found that volunteering can have a positive effect on an older person's mental and physical health, with senior volunteers tending to report increased strength and energy levels, lower rates of depression, and fewer physical limitations.
"Volunteering helps Americans by keeping them active, healthy, and engaged," said Dr. Erwin Tan, CNCS' director of senior corps. "As our nation's older population rapidly grows, we have a tremendous opportunity to unleash the power of older volunteers on our most pressing problems."