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The Helping Older People Engage (HOPE) Project

Study Basics: Are you 60 years of age or older? Do you sometimes feel isolated or left out or that you lack companionship? If so, you may be able to participate in a research study to learn about ways to increase social connectedness and improve well-being. Participation could last up to 12 months. Compensation provided.

Study Purpose: The HOPE Project compares volunteering through Lifespan to self-guided life review for improving social connectedness and well-being.

Note: All study activities are conducted remotely while physical distancing is in place.

Could This Study Be Right For You?

  • Age 60 and up
  • Sometimes feel isolated, left out, or that you lack companionship
  • Not currently serving as a RSVP volunteer through Lifespan

What Participants Can ExpectAmeriCorps Seniors

  • Participation involves completing confidential interviews at study start, 6 months and 12 months along with online/mailed surveys at 3 and 9 months. You will be asked about your physical, cognitive, and emotional health, and about your social relationships.
  • This is a randomized clinical trial (RCT).

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    • Half of participants will be in the volunteering group. In this group, you will be asked to serve as a RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) volunteer with Lifespan. RSVP is a flexible volunteer program with Lifespan that involves a menu of options, including: helping at senior centers, co-leading classes, helping at animal shelters, and providing friendly phone calls.
      Note: while physical distancing is in place, all Volunteer opportunities can be done from home.
  • Half of participants will be in the life review group. In this group, you will be asked to participate in a reminiscence program that involves monthly reading and writing exercises about one’s memories.

Additional information

  • What is already known about volunteering? Volunteering is a way of giving back.  Volunteering has been shown in scientific studies to slow declines in physical functioning (such as being able to get around) and cognitive functioning (such as memory) among adults age 60 and older.
  • What is already known about life review? Life Review is a way of looking back. Life Review has been shown in scientific studies to improve mood (such as reducing depression) among adults age 60 and older.
  • In this study, we want to understand other potential benefits of these activities. We are asking adults like yourself to join the HOPE Project, by either “giving back” (volunteering with Lifespan) or “looking back” (self-guided life review).
  • This study is funded by the National Institute on Aging

For more information: Call (585) 273-1811 or email:


Principal Investigator: Dr. Kim Van Orden

Study Coordinators: April Buttaccio, MPH, Laurel Prothero, BS, Joelle Truax, BA

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