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People over the age of forty benefit greatly from voluntary work
Most people's mental health deteriorates especially in old age. But researchers have now found a simple and free way to improve our well-being and strengthen our psyche. Older people signing up to volunteer work can lead to improved mental health and well-being.
Scientists from the University of Southampton and the University of Birmingham have now found that volunteering or volunteering in older people improves well-being and improves mental health. The doctors published the results of their study in the medical journal "BMJ Open".
Volunteering improves your well-being
Do you want to improve your well-being and mental health? Then you should consider voluntary work. However, you only benefit from the positive effect of this activity if you are already over forty years old, the doctors say. The results of the new study indicate that there is a need to involve middle-aged people and older people more in volunteer work, the authors further explain.
Study evaluates data from a British survey
The basis of the new study was an older survey, which was carried out between 1991 and 2008. For their investigation, the researchers analyzed the responses of more than 66,000 British adults. At that time, the survey included a number of questions about leisure activities. This also included the declaration of voluntary or voluntary activities, the authors explain.
Scientists calculate the GHQ-12 value of the test subjects
Around 21 percent of the people surveyed stated that they were quite inclined to carry out a type of so-called voluntary activity, the scientists explain. It was striking that women generally wanted to start volunteering more often than men, say the doctors. With the help of the answers, the scientists calculated the so-called GHQ-12 value. This measures mental health and emotional well-being, the experts add.
Volunteers or volunteers had the best GHQ score
During the study, the participants clearly recognized that the best (lowest) GHQ value was on average for people who were often employed as volunteers or volunteers. The worst (highest) scores in the study never showed volunteers, the scientists added.
The positive impact of voluntary work begins at the age of forty
When the research team included the age of the subjects, the positive association between volunteering and good mental health and emotional wellbeing became clear. The effect began at the age of forty and continued until the age of eighty or more, the scientists explain.
Volunteering could have a protective effect on health
Voluntary or volunteer work could offer those affected more opportunities for beneficial activities and social contacts. In turn, this could have a protective effect on the state of health, explains the author Dr. Faiza Tabassum from the University of Southampton. As the population ages, it is imperative to develop effective health promotion for the last third of our lives. This will enable older people to lead their lives in a healthier and happier way, the scientists explain.
Volunteering helps older people maintain social networks
If people have never volunteered, their emotional wellbeing is usually at the lower levels of the scale. This condition started in middle age and continued well into old age, compared to people doing voluntary work. Volunteering helps people maintain their social networks. This applies particularly to older people who often live in social isolation, explains Dr. Tabassum. Even after considering a number of potential influencing factors, including marital status, educational level and social class, the positive effects of voluntary work were confirmed, the scientists say.
All people should have the opportunity to volunteer
It is not always possible for everyone to take up voluntary work. The distribution of these activities by voluntary organizations means that the opportunity to participate is not always and everywhere available, explains the author Professor John Mohan from the University of Birmingham in a press release. However, the results of the study suggest that we should focus our attention on the positive impact of volunteering. Volunteering has a benefit for everyone, so for the recipients as well as for the volunteers, say the doctors. (as)