Research attention has turned towards investigating the motivations and experiences of those who volunteer under conditions that benefit both giver and recipient. The purpose of this paper is to examine the motivation of 22 older volunteers as they embarked on training to become lay leaders of an arthritis self-management programme. Data were collected through semi-structured telephone interviews at two points in time, before training and six weeks after training. Volunteerism was motivated by three key needs: to fill the vocational void left by retirement, to feel a useful member of society by helping others and to find a peer group. These key motivations remained important throughout the six weeks of the study. The costs of volunteering were perceived as time, responsibility, invasion of social life, failure, anxiety, and the duration and intensity of training. Nonetheless, older volunteers valued finding a purpose, reported less pain and an increased desire to ‘get on with life'. Results suggest that volunteering in later life can help to offset losses associated with retirement and decline in health. Further research, incorporating standard measures of health status, is needed if the impact of volunteering on the health of this study population is to be more fully understood
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- older volunteers
- arthritis self-management
- health status