Volunteering and health among older people: a review


University of Technology, Sydney. Email: Jenny.Onyx@uts.edu.au


This paper presents a review of the available literature on the relationship between volunteering and health among older people. There is consistent evidence that morbidity rates, functional health indices, self reported health and life satisfaction are affected by formal and informal volunteering. Some studies suggest that the benefits of volunteering are reciprocal, in that both those who give and those who receive assistance benefit. The evidence is consistent with the proposal that social capital is generated through volunteering. It is likely that the presence of high levels of social capital supports and maintains the health of older persons, provides informal support in times of sickness and stress and thus enhances quality of life as well as reducing or delaying the onset of illness and death.