07/03/2012 09:46 am ET

Thelma Burton, 91, Volunteers Despite Grim Medical Diagnosis

She was diagnosed with dementia and told to use a wheelchair, but 91-year-old Thelma Burton won’t let her doctors’ words interfere with her favorite activity: volunteering.

For the past 50 years, Burton has made a point of giving back to those in need, even when she was struggling herself, reports. For her tireless efforts in helping out church members and seniors, the lifelong do-gooder was named the winner of the Home Instead Senior Care network's Salute to Senior Service Award.

“I don't like to do like most old people,” she told the news outlet, “and I even try to help old people stay alive.”

She infuses a lively spirit into the seniors she helps five days a week by whipping up home-cooked meals and encouraging them to exercise.

But Burton is hardly the anomaly when it comes to seniors who breathe life into their communities.

The Peace Corps, for example, has seen a significant jump recently in its baby boomer demographic. In the past three years, the number of its 60-and-older volunteers more than doubled. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, between 1974 and 2006, the number of American volunteers ages 65 and above grew by 64 percent.

One such persistent volunteer is Dorrie Aber Noyek who celebrated her 105th birthday by partaking in her signature activity, giving back at a local Florida hospital, according to NBC Miami.

"Volunteering has been important to me for as long as I can remember," Noyek told the news outlet. "I feel I want to give back. I think I'm very fortunate, very lucky, very blessed."

Similarly, Martha Bandy continues to devote herself to her community at age 100. She told what keeps her benevolent attitude going strong.

“What you call volunteering is just a way of life.”