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Seniors increasingly likely to volunteer

July 8, 2013

A study released last month found that volunteering may be the key to healthy aging. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University discovered that seniors who volunteered had a lower blood pressure than those who did not, and it turns out many retirees could be reaping these benefits. A 2012 survey from AARP revealed that civic engagement among seniors has been on the rise. Over the last decade-plus, the figures have jumped by 14 percent, with approximately 76 percent of adults 45 and older saying they volunteered in the last year.

There are many different ways for seniors to donate their time, but one of the most popular options has been spending time with younger generations. In fact, seniors cited tutoring, teaching or mentoring children as their top volunteer choices. This trend has certainly not gone unnoticed, and there are a number of agencies out there designed to help connect seniors with opportunities to volunteer with children, The Huffington Post reports.

Among the most successful of these organizations is AARP Experience Corps. The group has been encouraging adults 50 and older to travel to underprivileged schools and help children between kindergarten and third grade improve their reading skills. The initiative has been a good experience for both seniors and the children, research shows. A study of 800 students from 23 different schools found they performed better on tests, had improved behavior and their teachers were happier when seniors got involved in the learning process.

The growing popularity of volunteering among seniors falls in line with the increasing likelihood that they will pursue encore careers. A recent survey from MetLife Foundation, Civic Ventures and Penn Schoen Berland found older adults who want a retirement job often look for a career that offers them a purpose and the opportunity to make a change.