Volunteerism can enable seniors to rediscover their purpose and identity, and strengthen their sense of belonging in society.
In 2018, seniors aged 65 years old and above make up 14% of the total population in Singapore. In 2030, this segment is expected to make up 1 in 4 of the population.
With that in mind, it’s important to ensure seniors can find meaningful ways to spend their golden years. And we can change the public perception and narrative around ageing and seniors by realising the benefits of senior volunteerism.
1. What seniors are looking for
Compared to the younger population in Singapore, seniors aged 50 and above prioritise:
- living a relaxing life
- ability to retire without financial and/or health worries
There are notable differences in life priorities between seniors aged 50-64, and those aged 65+. For instance, those between the ages of 50-64 prioritise financial security highly; whilst those aged 65+ prioritise living a relaxing life more than their younger senior counterparts.
2. Benefits of volunteering
- More senior volunteers report better health and life satisfaction.
Senior volunteers are 13 percentage points more likely to have minor illnesses or fall sick. They are also 8 percentage points more likely to be satisfied with life.
- More senior volunteers report being more outgoing and socially connected.
In times of need, senior volunteers aged 65+ can reach out to twice as many people compared to non-volunteers in the same age group.
3. Opportunities for seniors to volunteer
Based on their life priorities and retirement ideals, the study proposes 9 themes that can encourage senior volunteerism. These themes can influence the channels to engage seniors, how the volunteer programme/activity can be designed or how volunteering can be marketed to seniors.
- Volunteer with their family
Since spending time with family is part of seniors’ ideal retirement, seniors can bond with their family through volunteering.
- Volunteer through social activity
Maintaining current friendships is part of a senior’s life priority, so one can volunteer with friends. Seniors are also motivated to volunteer to expand his or her social circle.
- Volunteer in their neighbourhoods
Seniors are motivated to volunteer should opportunities be conveniently located, such as in within their immediate neighbourhood.
- Volunteer through faith
Compared to the younger population, seniors are more interested in volunteering with, through, for and because of religion/religious communities.
- Volunteer through informal means
Compared to the younger population, seniors prefer to volunteer informally.
- Volunteer through corporates
Notably, seniors aged 50-64 have an interest to volunteer with their work-related skills.
- Volunteer to guide the next generation
Seniors aged 50-64 are keen to mentor the next generation through volunteering.
- Volunteer to acquire skills
Seniors aged 50-64 look to develop their skills and use it to benefit others.
- Volunteer for health and relaxation
In line with their life priorities, seniors can volunteer in ways that are aligned with their hobbies and interests.