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Seniors and Civic Duty: 5 Reasons Community Involvement Can be Great for Health

NewBridge on the Charles resident Frankie Wolff actively volunteers in her community.

Independence Day is just around the corner, and for most of us, this marks the official beginning of the summer slow-down. It’s a time when we gather around the BBQ, at the beach, or beside the pool with our family, friends, and a heaping scoop of macaroni salad. We share war stories of the winter weather we’ve left behind, and look forward to the next few months of warm, sunny days. What we rarely do, and probably should, is remember what Independence Day is truly about, and reflect on our role as American citizens.

President John F. Kennedy famously once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Too often we forget these words, fulfilling our civic duties often falls to the bottom of the list of things we need to or should do. But what if I told you that being a better citizen could actually prolong your life? It turns out that in the case of seniors, serving our community is just what the doctor ordered.

A study of Americans over age 60 found that those who volunteer in their local communities reported lower disability and higher levels of wellbeing than non-volunteers. The act of volunteering in our communities provides emotional, physical, and cognitive benefits.

  •  It gives seniors a reason to socialize regularly - preventing isolation and depression.
  •  It promotes physical activity, leading to greater strength and health.
  •  It requires the continuation of learning and the sharing of knowledge – staving off cognitive decline.
  •  It gives seniors a voice and reminds other generations that seniors are an important part of the past - and future – of our country.
  •  Most importantly, it gives us purpose - it provides a reason to wake up in the morning, and a feel good deed to reflect on at night.

The best part about performing our civic duties is that it is up to each of us to decide how we would like to participate in our communities. We can volunteer to serve vulnerable populations in our town, join local government organizations, tutor at a nearby school, get involved in an issue close to your heart, and so much more. The possibilities are endless, it’s a win-win for all.

We invite local citizens of all ages (16+) to join the Hebrew SeniorLife volunteer corps! We have dozens of volunteer opportunities to match your strengths. See all of our current opportunities here and fill out a volunteer application, or contact our volunteer services department directly at hslvolunteerservices@hsl.harvard.edu

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