Impact of an altruistic activity on life satisfaction in institutionalized elders: A pilot study

Academic Article


  • Many residents in long-term care (LTC) facilities experience social isolation, lack of control over their lives and role loss. Participation in altruistic activities can create a meaningful social role. Based on the activity theory of aging (Lemon, Bengtson, & Peterson, 1972), the adoption of a meaningful role may improve the life satisfaction of residents in LTC facilities. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of participation in an altruistic activity on institutionalized elders. Eighteen residents from four LTC facilities were assigned to either an intervention group (mentoring) or a usual care control group (no mentoring). Once a week residents in the mentoring group participated in one-on-one mentoring conversational skills to English as a Second Language (ESL) students in an hour session for 1-3 weeks. Residents were administered the Life Satisfaction Index-A (LSI-A) to measure their life satisfaction at the beginning and end of the study. Results of an analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) indicated that at post-intervention residents in the mentoring group reported a higher adjusted mean score of LSI-A than those in the control group (F(.05, 1. 15) = 4.96, p = .0417). Comparison between the LSI-A mean scores at pre- and post-intervention in the mentoring group using a paired t-test showed a significant improvement (t(.05, 8) = 1.98, p = .042, one-tailed). This study provides some preliminary evidence to validate the beneficial effects of participating in an altruistic activity on residents in LTC facilities. © 2002 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Yuen HK
  • Start Page

  • 125
  • End Page

  • 135
  • Volume

  • 20
  • Issue

  • 3-4