Monday, January 24, 2011

Volunteering and Usefulness

People who feel useful tend to outlive those who don’t.

Volunteering makes us feel helpful, which can be especially important for people with physical limitations, like the elderly. Research shows that older adults who have difficulty performing daily tasks have a greater risk of death — not because they can’t do things, but because their disability makes them feel useless.

Researchers at Arizona State University found that when these people started volunteering, their risk of death dropped. According to one of the study’s authors, psychology professor Morris Okun, a sense of usefulness predicts survival in older people. People with functional limitations experience a diminished sense of usefulness, he explains. “By helping other people, you are actually helping yourself.”

Find a volunteer program that the whole family can do together.

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