Retirement is considered a time to take it easy, and for many people over the age of 65, it means life falls into a more relaxed rhythm. Sleeping a little later, socialising and playing sport, visiting and helping out family all become possible on weekdays as well as weekends.
In the early 2000s outdoor activity – gardening, walking, and sport – was a standard part of the day for about 80% of older people, with visiting cafés and the local library also favoured. The importance of socialising is emphasised by the amount of time many older people, particularly women, spend alone.
While most of those over 65 leave paid work, their hours of unpaid work increase. In 2009–10, retirees did four and a half hours of unpaid work around their home – more than any other group. They also undertook a significant amount of voluntary work.
A sizeable minority of older people continue in paid employment. In 2009, 34% of those aged 65-69 were employed. Men were more likely to continue working – 41% were employed, compared with 27% of women. Older workers were more likely to be in part-time work or self-employed. A daily rhythm that was flexible and allowed time for leisure and rest was what most preferred.
The percentage of those in work dropped by more than half from the age of 70.
Family or community networks
The kind of network within which an older person lives shapes their daily routine. Older people within a family network help out with childcare, cook meals, pass on skills and have daily and supportive contact with other adult family members. Networks of this kind are often found in Māori and Pasifika families.
Older people within a community network are also more likely to get day-to-day practical support and social contact from friends and community contacts.
Health and energy
Health dictates daily life for some people. For those in good health, the kind of pattern outlined above may be enjoyed for many years. Problems such as limited mobility, hearing loss or the need to rest more can be managed without greatly altering daily rhythms. Those with more serious health problems sometimes require supported living or hospital care.