The answer to the question of can seniors donate blood is less about age, and more about the individuals health and restrictions. While you must be 17 to give blood, there is no upper age limit so long as you are in good health.
January is National Blood Donor Month, and this means healthy seniors are eligible to participate. The Red Cross chooses January to celebrate its blood and platelet donors because it is traditionally a challenging month to keep up with the demand and need for blood. During the winter, cold weather and seasonal illnesses such as the flu can often result in the cancellation of scheduled blood drives – lowering the supply.
Hospital patients nationwide require about 44,000 donations daily for cancer care, surgeries, and treatment of other serious disease. Healthy seniors can be part of the process of keeping a large enough local and national blood supply.
Understanding the Donation Process
The Red Cross urges all who donate to bring an ID and a list of medications. They suggest bringing a friend or companion, so you can share the experience with someone. They also suggest eating a healthy diet of iron-rich foods before your donation.
Often there is a short physical before the donation, where they can make sure you meet the health requirements. While the entire process can take around an hour depending on the wait, the actual donation itself may only take a few minutes.
Can Seniors Donate Blood? Yes!
While the American Association of Blood Banks used to bar seniors over 65 from donating, they relaxed that rule in 1978, after studies showed older people who stored their own blood prior to surgery did well, according to the New York Times.
There are no national restriction on age for seniors, but it makes sense to check local laws or restrictions. It’s also a good idea to take a look at other health, lifestyle and travel restrictions to make sure there are no other factors that may pertain to you.
Each year about 3 million volunteer donors give about 5.1 million donations to the Red Cross, which handles around 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply. That blood becomes available, and is shipped to hospitals 24/7. Each donation can save up to three lives. Healthy Seniors can play a significant part in that.