Retirees who help others feel better about themselves, research shows. Plenty of 70-year-olds have energy to spare

With more than 30 years’ experience of volunteering already behind him, 95-year-old Harry Norris says that the benefits of giving up a few hours each week to local community projects are “too many to list”.

Currently treasurer of the Middlesborough-based Sporting Chance health and well-being programme, Mr Norris, a retired accountant, says that “staying active and getting out to meet new people” has helped fill the gap left by the death of his wife three years ago.

Scientists believe that acting altruistically towards other people as a volunteer or mentor can release so-called “feel-good” endorphins in the brain and instil a feeling of calm and well-being.

Known as “the helper’s high”, these chemical changes also boost our own self-confidence, self-esteem and overall satisfaction with life, according to research.

Loneliness in later life can be a chronic problem for those without friends or family living nearby and it’s an issue with which former consultant psychiatrist Sylvia Carpenter, 70, is only too familiar.


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