Volunteering as a productive ageing activity: the association with fall-related hip fracture in later life

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Abstract

This paper aims to contribute to the literature on the relationship between productive and healthy ageing as two key theoretical concepts in contemporary ageing. Specifically, volunteering as a productive activity in later life has been associated with social and health benefits for older people. Evidence from the literature has generally focused on global outcomes, such as mortality and self-rated health, or on measures of psychological well-being. This study explored whether volunteering is protective of an important adverse health outcome in later life, that of fall-related hip fracture, utilising data from a case control study of 387 participants. The results showed that volunteer activity in older age remained significantly protective of hip fracture risk [OR: 0.61 (0.38-0.99)], independent of social and physical activity, social support and health status, supporting the hypothesis of a relationship between the concepts of productive and healthy ageing. Whilst further studies are clearly needed to establish causality, these results suggest that health benefits of volunteering in later life might be more extensive than previous studies have shown.

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