On average, Tasmanian volunteers contribute on average 229 hours a year or 4.4 hours a week. Volunteering in your community has lots of benefits, not just for local people and organisations in need, it also helps you to tap into brain plasticity and potentially increase resilience to neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia.
Dementia is a global term that is used to describe a group of diseases that affect brain function. The two most common forms of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, are both linked to cardiovascular health. Volunteering is a fun, fulfilling, and effective way that can help you to boost your physical activity and improve cardiovascular health which will help protect both your heart and your brain.
As well as having a positive impact on your community, volunteering can improve your relationships, reduce stress, improve self-esteem and confidence, and give you a sense of achievement and purpose. Research has indicated that meeting new people, widening your social network, and engaging in regular social interactions can help reduce your risk of developing dementia.
Volunteering can also help protect your brain by providing regular mental and social stimulation, which augments the positive aspects of brain plasticity. It can give the brain more ‘reserve’ or ‘back up’ so that it can cope better and keep working properly if any brain cells are damaged or die (Dementia Australia).
The combination of physical activity, social interaction and physical activity often associated with volunteering is therefore an excellent way to improve your brain health. Whether your area of passion involves mentoring young people, animal welfare, gardening, education, sport, arts and culture, or community service, there are many opportunities in your local area to cater to your interests.
You can find numerous volunteering opportunities on the Volunteer Tasmania website. Just click on this link
to explore the opportunities available in your area.
To find out more about the dementia risk factors and contribute to dementia prevention research, consider joining the ISLAND project run by the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre.
Did you know that more than 68 per cent of Tasmanians, or 297,000 people volunteer? (Volunteering Tasmania)