Senior Corps & Health Benefits


Each year, Senior Corps engages roughly 220,000 older adults in service through its Foster Grandparent, Senior Companion, and RSVP programs, enriching their own lives and benefiting the communities they serve. 

Contributing to a growing conversation around the health benefits of volunteering, particularly for older adults, the Corporation for National and Community Service launched two longitudinal studies in 2015 to assess the impact of service on Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion volunteers and the caregivers of Senior Companion clients.

New data from the first year of the study shows Senior Corps volunteers report improved health after just one year of service. Volunteers reported decreased anxiety and depression, decreased loneliness and social isolation, enhanced physical capacity, and higher life satisfaction.

 


"Serving as a Senior Companion allows me to improve my own health. It helps me to get out more. His health issues make me more mindful of my own, motivating me to take the initiative to prevent new health challenges.”

Debra, Senior Corps Senior Companion


 

Senior Corps is good for volunteers' health

After just one year of service

  • Nearly half of Senior Corps volunteers reported improved health and wellbeing, and more than one-third initially reporting they were in good health, reported improved health at the end of the one-year period.
     
  • Almost two-thirds of Senior Corps volunteers reported a decrease in feelings of isolation, and 67% of those who first reported they “often” lack companionship, reported improved social connections.
     
  • 70% of Senior Corps volunteers who initially reported five or more symptoms of depression reported fewer symptoms at the end of the first year, while 63% of volunteers initially reporting three or four symptoms of depression also report fewer symptoms.

Senior Corps is good for Caregivers

Caregivers who receive Senior Companion respite services reported a positive impact in their health and well-being

  • Nearly 76% of caregivers in the critical-needs* group reported Senior Companion respite services helped them “a lot” with both “personal time” and “household management.”
     
  • Approximately 60% of caregivers with critical needs reported that Senior Companion services helped them ”a lot” or a ”great deal” and allowed them to be more involved in social activities and enjoy time with their friends or relatives.
     
  • Most caregivers (92% critical needs, 86% with essential needs, and 93% with moderate needs) reported they were satisfied with the respite services received from the Senior Companion program.
     
  • Approximately 40% of caregivers who rated their health as fair or poor before respite support, now rate their health as good.

*Note: Caregivers were grouped into critical, essential, and moderate categories based on personal and family needs. Those in the critical-needs group were the ones with the highest needs.

 

 

Issue Brief  Related CNCS Research

 

 


“When I go to the doctor, they ask how I have stayed healthy all of these years. I tell them that I have been volunteering in the school for 13 years, sometimes for 5 hours a day and if I didn’t do this I am sure I wouldn’t still be here. I feel so strongly that because it has given me something to look forward to, something I really enjoy, it has kept me going all this time.”

Anne, Senior Corps Foster Grandparent


 

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Want to Share Your Story?

CNCS will continue to build a reference and resources list, making it available on this page. If you have references to peer-reviewed academic work in the intersection of aging, health, volunteering, and caretaking, we want to hear from you.

Or …

Did volunteering improve your health? Are you a caregiver whose well-being was positively impacted because of a volunteer? Are you a Senior Corps program that tracks your volunteer’s health? We want to hear all your stories!

Send us both references and stories to here: healthyvolunteers@cns.gov

 

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The Corporation for National and Community Service sponsors and supports scholarly research.  Findings are used to identify effective strategies for national service, increase the evidence-base for its programs, and strengthen civic infrastructure and civic engagement in America. The Office of Research and Evaluation builds, shares and uses knowledge in multiple ways. Our CNCS webpages include ongoing and completed studies and resources for those interested in conducting their own program evaluations.  To find out more about research and evaluation at CNCS, check out our webpages.

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