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Age and Ageing
Year: 2009  |  Volume: 38  |  Issue: 5  |  Page No.: 531 - 537

Continued work employment and volunteerism and mental well-being of older adults: Singapore longitudinal ageing studies

A Schwingel, M. M Niti, C Tang and T. P. Ng    

Abstract:

Objective: to examine the effect of late life engagement in continued work involvement or volunteer activities during retirement on mental well-being.

Methods: two waves of data from the Singapore Longitudinal Ageing Studies were analyzed for 2,716 Singaporeans aged 55 or above at baseline and 1,754 at 2-year follow-up. Trained research nurses interviewed participants (non-volunteering retiree, volunteering retiree, and working seniors) on mental health status (geriatric depression scale, Mini Mental State Examination, positive mental wellbeing and life satisfaction).

Results: about 88% of seniors were retired (78% non-volunteering, 10% volunteering) and 12% were still working in paid employment or business. At baseline and 2 year follow up, and regardless of physical health status, volunteering retirees and working seniors gave significantly better MMSE cognitive performance scores, fewer depressive symptoms, and better mental well-being and life satisfaction than non-volunteering retirees.

Conclusion: the results of this study suggest that continued work involvement or volunteerism provides opportunities for social interaction and engagement and may be associated with enhanced mental well-being. Future research should clarify which specific aspects of volunteerism are related to long-term mental well-being.

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