About 13.3 million Canadians of all ages volunteer each year
to help causes they believe in and others who need assistance.
This includes helping neighbours, friends and strangers. As
we get older, why is it important to stay engaged and active
through volunteering?
Volunteers can gain as much as they give. Volunteering helps you
stay involved in your community, and enables you to use your skills,
abilities and knowledge. In your later life, volunteering is a great
way to remain engaged. It keeps your mind sharp and stimulates
learning. Volunteering also gets you out, which contributes to a
more active lifestyle. Consider your emotional and social health
too – being a volunteer enhances self-worth and self-esteem, and
is a good way to meet new people and expand your circle. Overall,
volunteering has been proven to enhance your well-being in every
My grandfather volunteered into his nineties, and continued to help
his neighbours even after moving into a retirement community. He
enjoyed helping people read and answer their correspondence. He
also loved writing articles for the community newspaper. My family
was pleased he found ways to contribute and find meaning.
My advice is to be like my grandfather, and look for needs in your
community that fit your interests and talents. Offering to help is a
great way to help yourself too.
Dr. Suzanne Cook
is a gerontologist
and researcher on
volunteering and older
adults. She is a Sessional
Assistant Professor
in the Department
of Sociology at York
University. She is also
a speaker and advisor
on the implications of
meaningful contribution
for healthy aging and
social policy.
If you have any questions for
Dr. Cook, please contact us at