Volunteering improves brain function and boosts happiness

  • LifePath offers many opportunities to volunteer. Shown here, Rides for Health Volunteer Driver Steve McKnight helps Martha Shibilo to her car. Martha says that without Steve, "I don't know what I’d do. I really don't know what I'd do. I just call him and ask him if he can pick me up at a certain time, and he's right there. Hasn't refused me yet,” she laughs. —Submitted photo

Published: 11/15/2018 10:27:04 AM
Modified: 11/15/2018 10:27:14 AM

By Pat Sicard, Volunteer Manager, RSVP of the Pioneer Valley

Volunteers make a world of difference in the lives of those they serve, and giving back also benefits the volunteer. According to the AARP at www.createthegood.org, benefits of volunteering for older adults can include lowering stress, finding new friends and social opportunities, gaining confidence and a continued sense of purpose. Aren’t you more interesting company when you have something to talk about?

“Brain Benefits for Seniors Who Volunteer,” a 2009 study by Johns Hopkins University, revealed that “volunteering increases brain functioning because activity gets you moving and thinking at the same time.” Volunteers also experience “The Happiness Effect,” which is similar to the aftermath of a vigorous workout. That feeling of happiness and well-being comes from a release of dopamine in the brain, and helping others has that exact same effect. The more you volunteer, the happier you become!

So, as the song says, “Don’t worry, be happy,” and use those extra hours in your weekly schedule for good. Share your skills and experience to benefit local nonprofits, make new friends, or help an organization that has helped you. RSVP of the Pioneer Valley is the volunteer connector for adults 55 and older who have some time and wish to help food banks, meals programs, thrift shops, or give elders who are homebound  some companionship or rides to medical appointments. RSVP offers options, you choose, and we facilitate the match.

Want more suggestions to challenge your interests and skills? Contact RSVP Volunteer Manager Pat Sicard, now at psicard@hcg-ma.org or 413-387-4558 x1.  

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