Thursday, 10 May 2012
WRVS today published a new study which finds that older people who volunteer are less depressed, have a better quality of life and are happier.
At a time when older people’s health is at risk because of cuts to services, increasing volunteering amongst older people offers a new route to improving their wellbeing. However, despite the pressing needs of their older populations, many local authorities have failed to grasp this opportunity.
The study, which examines the relationship between volunteering in later life and wellbeing, looked at the impact of volunteering of those over state pension age on depression symptoms, quality of life, life satisfaction and social isolation. The results show an improvement in volunteers, compared with non-volunteers, for each of the well-being outcomes examined. The study also finds that the more volunteering activities that a person is involved in, and the more frequently they do those activities, the happier they are.
"It is clear from this analysis that volunteering has a direct impact on people’s well-being, from their general quality of life, through to how satisfied they are with their lives and also on reducing symptoms of depression. Despite this, volunteering is still undervalued by our society.
Matthew Sowemimo, WRVS Head of Public Policy
"Many local authorities are failing to make older people aware of how they can volunteer. WRVS is calling for all English local authorities to signpost older people to volunteering opportunities."
WRVS is today (10 May 2012) hosting a roundtable discussion on the health benefits gained by older people who volunteer, to be attended by experts in policy and practice around volunteering and delivery of health services. It is believed that the evidence of this study will provide an important new perspective of the intense debates about how we as a society respond to an ageing population.
We will be tweeting live from the discussion, so follow us @WRVS using the hashtag #wellbeing
The study also explores the profile of volunteers and finds:
Overall, just over a quarter of respondents to the survey of 3,000 older people in England reported volunteering in the last year, with four-fifths of those volunteering at least monthly.
Volunteers were, on average, wealthier and healthier than non-volunteers, and were more likely to be in paid employment and younger than non-volunteers.
Younger people are more likely to volunteer than older people, although the decline in volunteering does not appear to happen until around age 75. However, amongst those who volunteer the frequency of volunteering does not decline until age 80.
For further information
WRVS is one of Britain’s leading age positive volunteering charities with more than 40,000 volunteers working to help make Britain a great place to grow old in. If you are over the age of 14, we have volunteering opportunities in communities, in hospitals and in emergency situations.
Find out how you could become a WRVS volunteer, call 0845 601 4670 today or search for volunteering opportunities in your area. Or help make a difference by making a secure online donation to WRVS.
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