Imagine choosing one activity that could decrease your stress level, lift you out of depression, lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, and extend your lifespan.
Who wouldn’t sign up for that?
Those are just some of the measurable health effects that studies have linked to volunteering. For older adults, there is also a long list of intangible benefits – increased community connections, a renewed sense of purpose, a chance to learn new skills, a way to set a good example for the grandkids. Then of course, there’s the “helper’s high” – that release of endorphins that comes with doing good, and why surveys show people who volunteer on a regular basis also report higher rates of happiness.
Volunteering is such a key component of good health that the United Health Foundation uses it as a measure of overall well-being in its annual America’s Health Rankings Senior Report. While New Jersey’s older adult health ranking improved slightly in 2019, its rate of volunteerism declined. Only about 22 percent of New Jerseyans over 65 reported volunteering sometime in the previous 2 months. That percentage puts New Jersey near the bottom of the rankings – 45th compared to #1 Utah, where nearly 45 percent of older adults volunteered.
As we look for ways to make Teaneck more age-friendly, a crucial goal is to connect older adults with volunteer opportunities, not only as a way to stay active and healthy, but also to keep them connected to younger generations and people from different walks of life. Active older adults also could help their vulnerable peers with tasks such as food shopping and home maintenance or by paying an occasional friendly visit.
Volunteers are essential to the continued vibrancy of any community, especially an age-friendly one.
Who We Are
Age-Friendly Teaneck formed in 2016 with this mission in mind: A great place to grow up should be a great place to grow old.