Civic Engagement: Policies and Programs to Support a Resilient Aging Society
Civic engagement among older adults is gaining attention in both the popular and academic press. As the health and education of aging Americans continue to increase, so does the opportunity to engage this growing population in civic activities aimed at improving communities. At the same time, this engagement has the potential to promote the health and resiliency of older adults. Evidence suggests that volunteering improves health, mental health, and socialization, and is protective in the face of loss and other challenges of later life. Thus, it has a place in the discussion of resilience as defined in this book, the ability to achieve, retain, or regain a level of physical or emotional health after illness or loss. In this chapter, we review the current status of volunteering among older adults in the United States, and we highlight over two decades of research demonstrating the positive association between volunteering and wellbeing of older adults. We then consider the relationship of volunteering to resilience. We review current policies and programs that promote volunteering, and finally, we address challenges to wider participation among the older population.
KeywordsCivic Engagement Baby Boomer Volunteer Program Baby Boomer Generation Formal Volunteer
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