Every year, about 1 million Americans travel to other countries to do volunteer work, and while most are teens and young adults, a growing number of adults aged 50 and older are pitching in, too.
Researchers from the University of Illinois looked at data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and found that in 2012, nearly 290,000 older Americans volunteered abroad. That represents an increase of more than 60 percent since 2002.
“Growing numbers of adults age 65-plus are going abroad to volunteer, partly because baby boomers have more free time with retirement and are interested in active engagement,” said Benjamin J. Lough, a researcher at the University of Illinois. “They spent their lives working and raising children, and now that they’re retired, they want leisure, but they also want to give back while satisfying their thirst for adventure.”
According to Lough, because older people have more professional skills, their service is in high demand, and the biggest predictor of whether or not they will volunteer is if they are asked to do so.
The researchers found also that:
• The average age of older volunteers was 65 or older.
• More than half (52 percent) of older adults in the study volunteered through religious organizations.
• Almost half of older adult volunteers had a master’s, doctoral or professional degree.
• Older adults with higher earnings were more likely to volunteer abroad, with nearly 25 percent of them reporting an annual income of at least $150,000.
• About one-third of older volunteers expressed an interest in learning about other cultures from perspectives not typically experienced through tourism.
• In a survey of older adults who volunteered overseas, about one in five said they were inspired by a family connection, such as volunteering alongside younger family members or siblings.
• Many older volunteers cited a desire to “give back to others,” while others said they wanted to share their “skills and years of experience” while visiting the developing world.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last month issued a cautionary statement about the use of testosterone products for low testosterone due to aging. The FDA is requiring manufacturers of prescription testosterone products to change their labeling to clarify uses for which the medications are approved and warn of possible increased heart attack and stroke risks associated with the products.
In its statement, the FDA noted that prescription testosterone products are approved only for men whose low testosterone levels are caused by “disorders of the testicles, pituitary gland, or brain that cause hypogonadism.”
“FDA has become aware that testosterone is being used extensively in attempts to relieve symptoms in men who have low testosterone for no apparent reason other than aging,” FDA officials said. “The benefits and safety of this use have not been established.”
The statement included a recommendation that patients taking testosterone seek immediate medical attention if they experience any symptom of heart attack or stroke, including chest pain, shortness of breath or trouble breathing, weakness in one part or on one side of the body, or slurred speech.
Mid Rivers Newsmagazine, midriversnewsmagazine.com, St. Charles County, News
On the calendar
BJC HealthCare presents caregiver classes for those caring for a loved one who is ill or aging at home from 1:30-3 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month (second Thursday in January and July) at Middendorf-Kredell Library, 2750 Hwy. K. in O’Fallon. For more information, call 916-9830.
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“Planned Giving with Charitable Asset Repositioning of Estate,” a segment of the Money Smart Week® public awareness campaign, is from 4-5 p.m. on Saturday, April 25 at Middendorf-Kredell Library, 2750 Hwy. K. in O’Fallon. Attendees learn how to maximize tax savings up to 50 percent and create tax-free wealth transfer. Presenter Chuck Farney discusses how to leave money to a charitable organization, benefits of charitable remainder trusts and wealth transfer remainder trusts while accommodating for future tax law changes. To learn more or to register, visit youranswerplace.org/adults.