Advantages and Limitations of Older-adult Volunteers in Conducting a Well-being Course as ‘Facilitators’ in the Provision of a University’s Open Studies in Japan


As the proportion of those aged 65 and over has sharply risen in recent years, how to make use of their potential manpower as "volunteers" as well as "workers" has been generating an inordinate amount of attention in Japanese society. This study intends to indicate the advantages and limitations for older-adult volunteers by employing a case study of two female older volunteers. These women have launched a “well-being” course as a pair in the university’s open studies programme, consisting of giving brief lectures on various topics and later facilitating small group discussions among the participants in order to stimulate their brains through social participation and conversation. The participatory observations and informal interviews with these older facilitators before and after the course were undertaken by the author, who was also supervising their roles as lecturers and facilitators in the process of the course. The study found that older volunteers can demonstrate competent leadership, particularly in facilitating effective conversations in each of the groups by referring to their life experience and vast knowledge of human nature. Yet, difficulties were observed in terms of classroom control, such as how to deliver a convincing speech, how to respond to unexpected reactions from participants, and how to treat those with special needs. It is therefore suggested that the institution seriously deliberate over and define the role of "volunteers" in this context and consider to what extent they should be further trained so as to be resilient in the face of a various kinds of challenge.

Author Information
Naoko Suzuki, Tokushima University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: EGen2019
Stream: Life Span Health Promotion

This paper is part of the EGen2019 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon