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What Older Adults Need to Know About Donating Blood

What Older Adults Need to Know about Donating Blood


Many seniors think that they are “too old” to donate blood, but the truth is an older person’s blood can save somebody’s life just as well as a younger person’s! So, if you meet the American Red Cross’s eligibility requirements, you can roll up your sleeve and give the gift of life.


Blood donors must:

  • Be at least 17years-old in most states or 16-years-old with parental consent
  • Be in good general health and feeling well (no cold or flu symptoms)
  • Weigh at least 110 pounds


What to expect

After meeting the eligibility requirements, you will have a mini physical to check your pulse, body temperature, blood pressure and hemoglobin (the level of iron in your red blood cells).  

Next, you move on to the actual donation, which takes about 8-10 minutes. You will be seated comfortably in a chair and may be able to watch television or a movie or listen to music. Staff and volunteers will be available if you have any questions.


After donating, you will have a seat in the refreshment area and enjoy a snack and drink. Most centers offer an assortment of cookies and crackers and fruit juices. You can leave the center after 10-15 minutes and continue your normal daily activities. In eight weeks, you’ll be eligible to donate again!


Why donate?

  • It feels good! You can be someone’s hero—in fact, you can help save more than one life with just one donation.
  • It’s something you can spare. The average adult has 10 pints of blood, and you only give about one pint per donation.
  • Help fill the blood bank shelves, because someday you or a loved one may need blood donated from others.
  • You get complimentary cookies and juice!


Come prepared!

If you’re feeling inspired and able to give the gift of life, then follow this advice for a successful donation. Eat a light meal and drink plenty of fluids before you donate. Bring your donor card (if you have one) driver’s license and two other forms of identification. Also, bring a list of any medication you are taking. Then relax and go with the flow.


Pathway’s Own Hero

Marie Walter, age 89, from Pathway to Living’s Stoney River Ramsey community in Wisconsin has given blood 99 times and looks forward to making her 100th milestone donation soon.


“Being a universal donor, blood centers always call on me to give. It’s just a part of life, and I feel good doing it,” says Walter, who has impacted about 300 lives through her donations, according to a representative from Wisconsin Blood Services.


For more information about donating blood, please visit For more information about Pathway to Living, please call 888-3432-4111 or visit