Volunteering as Meaning-Making in the Transition to Retirement

Luc S. Cousineau, Katie Misener


Understanding the volunteer experience of older adults is of critical importance to the nonprofit and voluntary sector, and society. Research suggests that volunteering is a way individuals derive meaning through the complex interactions that make up measures of self-worth, community concept, and identity. This study explores the meaning of volunteering in the lives of adults over the age of 60 as they transition into retirement. Analysis revealed four primary themes: role identity; confronting ageing, health, and dying; fear/anxiety about transitioning to retirement; and making a difference. Further analysis based on whether retirement was planned or not revealed important differences in the ways that meaning was made. The findings reveal suggestions for improvements in the recruitment and retention of the older volunteer segment in nonprofit organizations.

Comprendre l’expérience de bénévolat des personnes âgées est d’une importance cruciale pour le secteur bénévole et communautaire. Le bénévolat est un moyen pour les individus de trouver un sentiment d’identité grâce aux interactions complexes de l’estime de soi, communauté, et de l’identité. Cette étude explore la signification du bénévolat dans la vie des adultes de plus de 60 ans, lors de leur transition vers la retraite. L’analyse a révélé quatre thèmes principaux: l’identité; faire face au vieillissement; l’anxiété face à la transition à la retraite; et faire une différence. Si la retraite était prévue ou non a révélé des différences significatives. Les résultats offrent un aperçu unique de l’expérience des volontaires âgés et révèlent des suggestions d’amélioration du recrutement et de la rétention du segment des volontaires âgés.


Volunteer; Retirement; Older adults; Meaning-making; Transition / Bénévole; Retraite; Les aînés; Sentiment d’identité; Transition

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22230/cjnser.2019v10n1a293


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