Evidence mounting that older adults who volunteer are happier, healthier

Senior Couple Working As Part Of Volunteer Group

Senior Couple Working As Part Of Volunteer Group

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!

Interested in volunteering? Let us know.

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