Help Prevent Dementia - Volunteer on GivingTuesday!

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Dementia is a growing problem among aging populations. In Canada alone, there are an estimated 500,000 dementia patients. As we learn more about the causes of dementia and other age-related illnesses, middle aged and older people are being encouraged to take preventative action. There is a growing body of research suggesting that giving and volunteering can greatly reduce the risk of developing dementia. 

Giving Tuesday is helping to actively promote selflessness, altruism and voluntary work. GivingTuesday is a global movement promoting generosity that takes place after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. GivingTuesday offers the perfect opportunity to make a start in volunteering in your local community. This will give you momentary pleasure, but may also significantly decrease your chances of developing long term, age related diseases.

Why It Works

It is becoming increasingly clear that older people who continuously engage in volunteer based activities have decreased risks of needing treatment for dementia later in life. This is likely due to the exercise of both physical and cognitive capabilities.

Keeping the mind active and engaged strengthens neural pathways and makes them less vulnerable to deterioration. This can also be achieved with the use of brain training apps, that you can play in your spare time. GivingTuesday encourages you to be active in communities outside of the home, so you have a stronger sense of meaning and connection, which is essential for mental wellbeing.

 What You Can Do

There are plenty of lifestyle changes that can help prevent dementia - eat well, exercise, de-stress etc. - but here are a couple of specific volunteering activities:

1.    If you still have some adventure left in you, why not consider volunteering abroad? If you are retired or semi-retired, there is increasing demand in foreign countries for your skillset. As someone with a lifetime of experience, you can provide something that young backpackers cannot. If you have worked in the service industry, perhaps as a teacher or a nurse, your skills are especially in demand in areas of poverty and low health.

2.    If you’d prefer to stay closer to home, you can search the Giving Tuesday site for your area. You could try volunteering with seniors. Older people who need care will be grateful to be around people close in their age who they can simply converse with. Good conversation is incredibly important for improving cognitive functioning. And, this will give you a good working knowledge of the problems people face as they get older. 

Age-related illnesses can be a scary prospect. But the earlier you can start living a healthy and meaningful life, the better chance you’ll have of avoiding mental deterioration. Keep an active brain and social life through volunteering for best results. 

Following Black Friday and Cyber Monday, make plans to get involved for GivingTuesday and give something back by volunteering!


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