Have i ever done anything like this before? Older adults solving Ill-defined problems in intensive volunteering

Cheryl Cheek, Kathleen W. Piercy, Meranda Kohlenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This study examined the ways in which individuals over 50 years old solved problems while volunteering in intensive humanitarian and disaster relief service. Thirty-seven men and women in the sample were sponsored by three religious organizations well known for providing humanitarian and disaster relief service. Semistructured interviews yielded data that were analyzed qualitatively, using McCracken's five-step process for analysis. We found that volunteers used three different abilities to solve problems: drawing upon experience to create strategies, maintaining emotional stability in the midst of trying circumstances, and applying strategies in a contextsensitive manner. These findings illustrate that these factors, which are comparable to those used in solving everyday problems, are unique in the way they are applied to intensive volunteering. The volunteers' sharing of knowledge, experience, and support with each other were also noticeable in their accounts of their service. This sharing contributed strongly to their sense of emotional stability and effectiveness in solving problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-207
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Aging and Human Development
Volume80
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aging
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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