Hopefully you’re already well into our 30 Day Better Brain Challenge, as part of supporting World Alzheimer’s Month in September. There are many different daily activities that we encourage you to try that are beneficial for your brain health. However, we wanted to take an opportunity to focus on one in particular – volunteering.
A study published in PLOS One in March 2017 by the University of Calgary (which also happens to be the Alma matter of our very own Dr. Shawn Watson) showed that doing regular volunteer work can significantly reduce the development of dementia in seniors. To be considered volunteer work, the activity must have been done out of free will, for no monetary gain and for the benefit of those who would not be considered as immediate family.
The study involved roughly 1000 retirees who were administered regular questionnaires involving cognitive factors such as memory, decision making, and concentration, and were also regularly monitored by a physician. Based on this, the study concluded that people who regularly volunteered for at least one hour per week were 2.44 times less likely to develop dementia than those who didn’t volunteer at all.
Interestingly enough, people who volunteered but not on a regular basis saw no change to their risk of developing dementia, just like those who didn’t volunteer at all. Researchers in the study were unable to determine why this was the case.