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Quality in Ageing and Older Adults ; 24(1/2):54-64, 2023.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-20235078


PurposeMany older adults engage in volunteer activities, drawing meaning and purpose through such efforts. Social distancing restrictions, put in place during Covid-19 surges to reduce the risk of transmission, disrupted older adult volunteers' lives and volunteer experiences. Social distancing measures provide a unique opportunity to explore what happened when the choices around pausing or stopping volunteering were not entirely within the control of older adults. This paper aims to explore the experiences of older adult volunteers as they navigated uncertainties and made difficult decisions around balancing their safety and their desire to continue volunteering.Design/methodology/approachThe authors conducted interviews with 26 community-dwelling older adults, age 50+, who had engaged in volunteer activities for at least 1 h a week prior to the start of the pandemic. The interviews were conducted on the phone or via Zoom. The authors used thematic analysis to help us analyze the data and identify patterns from participants' experiences.FindingsDespite the risk presented by Covid-19, most participants volunteered during the pandemic. They continued some or all of their previous activities with safety-related adjustments, with some seeking new or different opportunities. Participants' discussions highlight the challenges of volunteering during the pandemic and the importance of engagement to their resiliency and subjective well-being.Originality/valueThis paper provides original contributions to understanding how and why older adults volunteered during the Covid-19 pandemic. The social distancing measures provide a novel opportunity to enrich our understanding of the meaningfulness and value of volunteerism to older adults' lives and subjective well-being.