A study was conducted by the researchers at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences. The research team collected data on the psychological health benefits that formal volunteering can offer to senior citizens. The research assessed 73 different published studies that included the elderly that were at least 50 years old.
Notably, these studies were carried out over 45 years; hence, they included several seniors from a wide range of ages. Besides, the evaluated studies were carried out in different places. All seniors in the study were involved in some formal volunteering opportunities.
The researchers discovered that the benefits of volunteering to retirees and other seniors go beyond mere altruism. In other words, volunteering is not just about the good feeling of assisting others in the community. For seniors, the health benefits of volunteering show an increase at 2 to 3 hours every week or 100 volunteer hours every year. This shows that the benefits of volunteering are directly dependent on how often you volunteer.
According to the scope of the study, considerations were given to the cognitive, psychological, and physical results of formal volunteering. Overall, cognitive, happiness, depression, life satisfaction, physical health, and feelings of social support were all part of the results.
A leading scientist in the research noted that they focused on knowing more about the current state of the understanding of the advantages of volunteering among senior citizens. The study assisted the researchers to find out various things that show that volunteering can play a key role in maintaining wellbeing and health as the age of a person increases.
SPECIFIC BENEFITS OF FORMAL VOLUNTEERING TO OLDER ADULTS
As discovered by the research, seniors that volunteered had a significant increase in their overall wellbeing, an improvement in longevity, a decrease in a depressive state, and reduced functional limits. Among the older adults sampled, seniors with chronic health conditions are the biggest beneficiaries of volunteering. This is because of the ability of volunteering to boost the psychological wellbeing of these seniors as they feel needed or appreciated by others.
The results of the study highlight that volunteering can bring about an improvement in both physical activity and overall health. This improvement, in turn, will protect baby boomers against an array of health problems. Besides, seniors with moderate volunteering tend to have fewer hip fractures as well as lesser hypertension when compared to their non-volunteering counterparts.
A SUGGESTION ON THE FOCUS OF FUTURE STUDIES
However, the study noted a paucity of studies on how volunteering can enhance the cognitive functioning of seniors. Therefore, it has been suggested that various researchers should consider studying the relationship between formal volunteering and the cognitive functioning of the elderly in future studies.
In a nutshell, whether you are thriving on independent or assisted living, volunteering can come in handy to improve the quality of the remaining part of your life. Therefore, look for volunteering opportunities in your neighborhood, local religious organization, etc. and start helping others while also improving your overall wellbeing.