Senior center involvement and life satisfaction
Leest, Linda Marsha
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The study explores the relationship between the life satisfaction of senior citizens and their involvement in senior centers as board members or volunteers. There is increasing evidence that developing and maintaining such social involvement may be as important to wellness as are other more commonly recognized health practices. Strong social ties are thought to have independent positive effects on health and to protect persons from morbidity.;Two hundred adults, 60 years and older, from three senior centers in Queens, New York, participated in the study. The dependent variable of life satisfaction was measured by the Life Satisfaction Index-Z (LSIZ), an instrument used extensively in gerontological research. It was developed by Neugarten, Havighurst and Tobin. The independent variable of involvement was measured by a scoring system developed by a panel of senior center experts.;Few studies have attempted to conceptualize, let alone measure, the quality and effect of participation in social transactions afforded by senior centers. This study attempted to test empirically the scope and depth of involvement by participants in senior centers and tried to find a link between that involvement and life satisfaction.;Seven hypotheses were tested and controlled for by gender, age, income, education and health. The results indicate a positive association between senior center involvement and life satisfaction. The correlation between the number of years as a center member and life satisfaction is statistically significant even when controlling for health.;A review of the findings demonstrates that those participants of both sexes who are in good health, past the age of 80, have a high score for involvement. The data implies that older people retain the capacity to change their lives. Social workers need to recognize the capabilities of this population and utilize the knowledge that an intervention can make a difference.;The findings seem to indicate that society needs to question accepted premises about older persons. Socially useful involvement with others appears to be important throughout the life span.