Volunteering has many benefits for the mind, body and soul, no matter your age or situation. A recent study, for example, showed that by volunteering 100 hours a year, an older widower can reduce his or her loneliness.
Dr Ben Lennox Kail from Georgia State University study looked at whether loneliness would decrease in an elderly person if they volunteer after becoming a widower.
The researchers examined data from more than 5,800 married adults over the age of 51, who finished the Health and Retirement Study. This study is given out every two years and collects various information on health, volunteer engagement and family.
Using this data between 2006 to 2014, researchers determined a link between loneliness and becoming a widower – and found that loneliness was reduced by volunteering.
What are the dangers of loneliness?
According to our team, the effects of loneliness can be a serious medical danger for older adults. Previous research shows loneliness can cause declines in mental and physical health, as well as premature death.
Having friends and strong social networks decreases loneliness. So, researchers wanted to discover if volunteering and being involved in the community might reduce loneliness in the most vulnerable older category – widowers.
Widowers who volunteered for more than two or more hours each week, did decrease their level of loneliness. It became a similar level to those who were continuously married and volunteering at the same time.
The findings suggest that a higher level of volunteering of two hours per week, potential prevents the effects of loneliness in widowers.
Dr Ben Lennox Kail said volunteering reduced loneliness to an extent that made it look like widowers had not lost someone at all.