Seniors Benefit from Research Participation

The worldwide senior population is rapidly growing and researchers are working to help ensure older adults can live out a lengthening life expectancy with greater health, independence, and satisfaction.   Involving older adults in health and social care research has been found through a systematic review to be beneficial; improving confidence, self-esteem, and providing elders with an opportunity to give back to their community.  

Researchers are increasingly seeing the value of including patients and the public as active partners in the research process. Older adults who were enlisted as co-researchers in several studies reported feeling a sense of enjoyment, achievement, and satisfaction by being able to contribute to research.  Seniors learning new skills through the process felt valued and useful and were not only intellectually stimulated but were gratified by being able to make a contribution. 

When older adults are involved in the process, the research quality also improves.  Researchers gain a new perspective and develop relationships that may help to inform their studies and provide richer data leading to better outcomes.  Working in partnership with older adults can help fight ageist stereotypes and encourage greater activism.

The study did discover that in some cases, older adults involved with research found their work to be too demanding or had difficulty with relationships between other co-researchers, project managers, and scientists.  But with better communication, relationship building, and addressing any barriers that could hinder participation, such as expense, time commitment, or location obstacles, the process can be mutually rewarding for researchers and older adults.

Older adults interested in participating in research can find opportunities through their local educational institutions.  Not only will working with researchers give seniors a chance to grow and learn, but also to give back and potentially improve the lives of others.  Learn more about finding a research study by following this link to Research Match.

Volunteering can provide the opportunity to help others while staying socially connected and mentally challenged.  Seniors who volunteer their time enjoy better overall health, less depression and loneliness, and a greater sense of accomplishment. It’s never too late to make a difference!