Researchers say volunteering may lower Alzheimer’s risk

New research finds volunteering later in life can decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Published: Jul. 31, 2023 at 5:50 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - We all know volunteering is good for the community, but it can also be good for your health.

Donna Arnold is a long-time volunteer. She’s in her 70s but she says volunteering helps her feel much younger.

“I just grew up thinking that’s what you did,” Arnold said. “You volunteered and gave back to the community because the community gives us so much.”

Arnold co-manages 4-H kids at the Wood County Fair’s Milkshake Barn.

“You work with younger people all the time, and they just give you energy, you know? Their enthusiasm, their attitudes, they’re bouncing around with energy,” Arnold said. “They keep me young. It keeps your perspective of what’s right with the world.”

Volunteering is an activity that, according to new research, will help keep Arnold healthy longer.

“Volunteering in later life can improve your memory, thinking, and executive functioning skills,” Pam Meyers, the program director for Northwest Ohio’s Alzheimer’s Association said. “By volunteering, you decrease your risk for developing Alzheimer’s and other dementia.”

And that decrease can be as much as 48%. Arnold says volunteering also makes a big difference in her life.

“It gives me a sense of purpose. I can’t imagine not doing this. What would I do all day?” Arnold said. “You have a reason to keep going. You have something to look forward to, and you feel needed.”

There are tons of volunteer opportunities in the community. Arnold recommends finding a cause you’re passionate about and finding a related organization. If you want to learn more about brain health, the Alzheimer’s Association has plenty of online resources.

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