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Age Ageing. 2009 Sep;38(5):531-7. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afp089. Epub 2009 May 27.

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

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  • 1Gerontology Research Programme, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore 119074.



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


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).


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.


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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