Toronto, Canada – Older adults who stay active by volunteering are getting more out of it than just an altruistic feeling – they are receiving a health boost!
A new study, led by the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences and published online this week in Psychological Bulletin, is the first to take a broad-brush look at all the available peer-reviewed evidence regarding the psychosocial health benefits of formal volunteering for older adults.
Among the key findings:
- Volunteering is associated with reductions in symptoms of depression, better overall health, fewer functional limitations, and greater longevity.
- Health benefits may depend on a moderate level of volunteering. There appears to be a tipping point after which greater benefits no longer accrue. The “sweet spot” appears to be at about 100 annual hours, or 2-3 hours per week.
- More vulnerable seniors (i.e. those with chronic health conditions) may benefit the most from volunteering.
- Feeling appreciated or needed as a volunteer appears to amplify the relationship between volunteering and psychosocial wellbeing.
“Taken together, these results suggest that volunteering is associated with health improvements and increased physical activity – changes that one would expect to offer protection against a variety of health conditions,” said Dr. Anderson. Indeed, a moderate amount of volunteering has been shown to be related to less hypertension and fewer hip fractures among seniors who volunteer compared to their matched non-volunteering peers.
West Toronto Support Services appreciates all our amazing volunteers! Thank you!