Volunteering may give a mental wellbeing boost to older adults

Giving time up to take part in some charity work may provide a boost to our mental wellbeing as we get older, according to UK research.1

The study, which was produced by the Universities of Southampton and Birmingham, found that many people's mental wellbeing drop as they get older. This generally starts from the age of 40-45 and continues to drop as we age. However, researchers suggested they found evidence that volunteering could help to reverse this process.

More than 66,000 people took part in the research, which was taken from the British Household Panel Survey, and this depth of data was one of the study's main strengths.

However, there were a few limitations to the study too, in particular that it could not prove the cause and effect. Those who volunteer generally have better health scores because people who are in poor health are less likely to be able to offer their services to volunteering. It is not necessarily evident that volunteering would improve this group of people's health.

Indeed, it is possible that having better wellbeing makes a person more inclined to help others.

Reference

1 Tabassum F, Mohan J, Smith P. Association of volunteering with mental well-being: a lifecourse analysis of a national population-based longitudinal study in the UK. BMJ Open. Published online August 8 2016

Headlines

Volunteering is not beneficial until you hit 40, study finds. The Daily Telegraph, August 9 2016

Why over 40s are happy to volunteer: Giving up time for charity work found to boost mental wellbeing as people get older. Mail Online, August 9 2016