New Research Says Volunteering is Beneficial to Seniors

NEW YORK--New research suggests something as simple as volunteering could have big benefits for seniors.

Gladys Velez spends a lot of time with Manuela Castillo. The 90-year-old has dementia and doesn't leave home without Gladys by her side.

"It's more like a mother-daughter relationship than a client and a senior companion. that's how we treat each other," said Velez.

Gladys is a volunteer companion. She says paying it forward is paying off in ways she never imagined

"Once I started the program I noticed I was more active, looked forward to the next day, said Velez.

New research suggests there are big health benefits for seniors who volunteer. 
   
The Corporation for National and Community Service conducted two studies and found people who volunteer have less depression and loneliness and more satisfaction with life.

David Garza is the executive director at the Henry street settlement where Gladys gives her time.

"There's a certain primary health care benefit and there's a certain behavioral health care benefit," said Garza. "We see both sides of that really clearly from this research."

Velez, who is diabetic and suffered from depression has noticed dramatic improvements in her health. She said she's not taking the medication anymore and her diabetes has improved. She says the daily visits have given her purpose.

"I enjoy it, knowing I'm helping someone."

And she's encouraging others to lend a hand.   

More than 245,000 adults participate in Senior Corps programs around the country.


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