January is National Volunteer Blood Donor Month! Donating blood is a vital yet simple way to give back to others and help save lives. If you’ve never given blood before, perhaps consider giving it a try.

Before an individual donates blood, they are asked various questions about their health and lifestyle, and also get a quick finger prick to check their hemoglobin level. This process may be a little uncomfortable for some, but it’s entirely confidential, and it’s necessary to ensure the safety of the blood donor and the viability of the blood to be given.

Why is it important to donate blood?

There is always a high demand for blood. It’s always a good time to help save lives!

As our population ages, the need for donated blood is also increasing. Fortunately, there are many healthy older adults eligible to donate blood. You may be wondering if there’s an age limit for blood donation, and if so, what is it? However, the opportunity to save lives does not discriminate by age! There’s no age limit, as long as all blood donation eligibility requirements are met. The Red Cross states that older blood donors do fine, as long as they meet the eligibility requirements (which can disqualify some individuals who suffer from certain health conditions).

Some blood donation disqualifying conditions (regardless of age) include: dementia, recent history of cancer or heart conditions, hepatitis, HIV, infection, and certain heart rhythm irregularities. Blood donors may also be rejected for other reasons, such as intravenous drug use, a history of certain infections, or recent travel (the past 3 years) to countries exposed to malaria, the zika virus, or the ebola virus. There are also many medications that disqualify individuals for blood donation.

When a person goes to donate blood, they are screened for all of the aforementioned disqualifying factors, as well as current weight and hemoglobin levels.

Just remember that if you’re disqualified to give blood at any point in your life, this doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t ever donate! Maybe your hemoglobin levels weren’t right at the time, or your iron level was too low, or you needed to put on a little more weight.

Read this if you need a little extra motivation to get yourself into the donation chair. You can also read this article to learn a little more about the blood donation process.