Volunteerism in Late Life


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This is a presentation that I put together to reflect the literature review I prepared for Adult Development and Aging I. The literature review is part of my Master\'s portfolio. The presentation provides an overview of the information I reviewed on volunteerism in late life.

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  • Discuss the research question: what are the current rates of volunteerism and late life? What are the benefits? What motivates older adults to volunteer or be civically engaged? Explain how this is all motivated by my greater desire to understand what role corporations or businesses can play in encouraging engagement of older adults within the larger framework of community capacity. Emphasize that this is foundational work aimed at creating more research questions to inform my future research and practice.
  • Volunteerism in Late Life

    1. 1. Volunteerism in Later Life: Benefits, Rates and Motivation Sylvia Parsons Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
    2. 2. Reason for Research <ul><li>Great potential social benefit </li></ul><ul><li>Potential benefits to volunteer: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Improved physical health (Luoh & Herzog, 2002) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Improved mental health (Li & Ferraro, 2005; Windsor, Antsey & Rodgers, 2008) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Improved subjective well-being (Van Willigen, 2000, Windsor, Antsey & Rodgers, 2008) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Delayed mortality(Luoh & Herzog, 2002) </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. Introduction <ul><li>Definition of Volunteerism </li></ul><ul><li>Application of Life-Course Perspective </li></ul><ul><li>Application of SST </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusions </li></ul><ul><li>Recommendations </li></ul>
    4. 4. Volunteerism <ul><li>Wilson (2000): </li></ul><ul><li>“ Engagement in proactive activities that involve commitment and whose benefits extend beyond the individual” </li></ul><ul><li>NOT Civic engagement: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Putnam (1995, 2000): attending public meetings, voting, associational membership and having dinner with friends </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. Life-Course Perspective <ul><li>Bengtson & Allen (1993): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ontogenetic (age) effects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Generational (cohort) effects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Historical (Period) effects </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Life-Course Perspective <ul><li>Ontogenetic (Age) Effects </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Exit from work and parental role </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Generational (Cohort) Effects </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Values and attitudes: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Putnam (1995, 2000): “Long Civic Generation” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Socioeconomic and demographic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Higher educational attainment, greater income, better health, non-minority and high SES </li></ul></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Life-Course Perspective <ul><li>Historical (Period) Effects </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Healthcare and financial security </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lower financial support for social services </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Productive Aging” discourse </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Socioemotional Selectivity Theory <ul><li>Carstensen (1991, 1995, 1998, 2006): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>As one becomes more aware of limits on life he or she will focus on more emotionally rewarding goals, rather than educational and long-term pursuits. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Results in shedding of peripheral activities to focus on core activities aligned with personal priorities </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. Socioemotional Selectivity Theory <ul><li>Okun & Michel (2006) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sense of community or religious affiliation as indicators of greater volunteerism </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Goss (1999): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Volunteer life cycle: more people volunteer in middle age, but greater time commitments in late life </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Van Willigen (2000): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Volunteerism past 800 hours results in decrease in well-being </li></ul></ul>
    10. 10. Conclusions <ul><li>Need to encourage volunteerism from a young age </li></ul><ul><li>“Productive aging” focus may have some success; however SST demonstrates concerns regarding pressure </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Programs must be built to reflect balance </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Need for further research </li></ul>
    11. 11. Future Research <ul><li>Stronger definition; differentiate from civic engagement </li></ul><ul><li>More explicit theoretical application </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Community capacity, social organization, social exchange and social capital </li></ul></ul><ul><li>More longitudinal studies </li></ul><ul><li>More research on effects on those served </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Intergenerational v. Intragenerational </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. Future Practice <ul><li>Government and Advocacy Groups </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Balanced focus on Productive Aging </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Raise awareness of benefits </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Incentives; education and tax break </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Volunteer Organizations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Diverse offerings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More accessible </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Corporations and Businesses </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Encore careers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increased community and volunteer effort </li></ul></ul>
    13. 13. Questions or Comments?
    14. 14. References <ul><li>Bengtson, V.L. & Allen, K.R. (1993). The life course perspective applied to families over time. In P.G. Boss, W.J. Doherty, R. LaRossa, W.R. Shumin & S.K. Steinmeitz (Eds.), Sourcebook of Family Theories and Methods: Contextual Approach (pp. 469-504). New York: Plenum Press. </li></ul><ul><li>Carstensen, L.L. (1991). Socioemotional selectivity theory: Social activity in life-span context. Annual Review of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 11, 195-217. </li></ul><ul><li>Carstensen, L.L. (1992). Social and emotional patterns in adulthood: Support for socioemotional selectivity theory. Psychology and Aging, 7, 331-338. </li></ul><ul><li>Carstensen, L.L. (1995). Evidence for a life-span theory of socioemotional selectivity. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 4, 151-156. </li></ul><ul><li>Carstensen, L.L. (1998). Emotion in the second half of life. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 7, 144-149. </li></ul><ul><li>Carstensen, L.L. (2006). The influence of a sense of time on human development. Science, 312, 1913-1915. </li></ul>
    15. 15. References <ul><li>Goss, Kristin A. (1999).Volunteering and the long civic generation. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 28 , 378-415. </li></ul><ul><li>Hendricks, J. & Cutler, S.J. (2004). Volunteerism and socioemotional selectivity in later life. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 59B, S251-257. </li></ul><ul><li>Putnam, Robert D. (1995). Bowling alone: America’s declining social capital. Journal of Democracy , 6 , 65-78. </li></ul><ul><li>Putnam, Robert D. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community . New York: Simon & Schuster. </li></ul><ul><li>Van Willigen, M. (2000). Differential benefits of volunteering across the life course. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 55B, S308-318. </li></ul><ul><li>Wilson, J. (2000). Volunteering. Annual Review of Sociology, 26, 215-240. </li></ul>