How leisure planning can help you age well at home

Envigor general manager Alicia Wooding discusses why leisure planning for retirement is just as important as financial planning.

We are an ageing population and we are living longer, which means planning for our post-retirement years – including our care years – is essential.

 While we are familiar with the concept of a bucket list, which can include things like travel plans, writing a memoir, spending time with the family, volunteering or just learning to live in the moment, leisure planning can take this a step further.

​Leisure planning is more than a bucket list … it requires thinking about how you want to spend every day with a focus on health and wellbeing. ​It also involves thinking ahead to how you want to be living as you get older and may require care.

Moving toward leisure appreciation

Leisure planning involves asking yourself how you want to make the most of your post-retirement free time.

Life is getting busier and busier and some people can find themselves defined by what they do for a living and the roles they play in life. This can mean that the loss of routine can result in boredom post-retirement.

However, changing your focus toward appreciating your free time is a good first step.​ According to Dattilo & Murphy (1991), “an essential facet of leisure appreciation is the realisation that leisure is a legitimate source of pleasure and satisfaction and should be available to everyone.”​

A move to leisure appreciation is also a move towards living in a way that looks after our own health and wellbeing as we get older.

What do we know about ageing well?

How well you age is not all down to luck and we now know that many aspects of healthy ageing are linked to how you choose to spend your time.

Key aspects we know about ageing well include:

  • Maintaining health and wellbeing​
  • Living with purpose​
  • Community connections​
  • Support networks

Maintaining health & wellbeing

To give yourself the best shot you can of ageing well, it’s worth establishing healthy habits.

What healthy habits should you focus on? 

  • Eat well​
  • Stay hydrated​
  • Physical activity – mix of strength and cardio​
  • Sleep​
  • Preventative health – check-ups, screenings and vaccinations 

Living with purpose

Researchers are finding strong associations between having a purpose in life and better physical health and wellbeing. ​​Findings point to the need to foster purpose in older adults, especially in those who may find themselves adrift after children move away or post-retirement.

Living with purpose will mean something different to everybody, but to explore what it means for you, you could look at:

  • Establishing routines​
  • Meaningful activities​
  • Helping others​
  • Doing what you love​ – what is your reason to get up in the morning?

Social connections

Loneliness and social isolation have a real health impact. ​In fact, according to research by Holt-Lunstard (2015), loneliness and a lack of social connections can be worse for us than obesity and physical inactivity and a risk factor for early death, comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. ​

Life changes post-retirement leave us at more risk of social isolation, these can include:

  • Retirement and losing work connections​
  • Bereavement
  • Poor health/loss of mobility​
  • Becoming a carer

Support networks

Maintaining social connections is a way to avoid loneliness and isolation and it means you have people you can turn to in times of need. Support networks also allow you to help others in return.

Support networks can include:

  • Family​
  • Friendship groups​
  • Community groups​
  • Volunteer organisations

Planning for the future

Planning your post-retirement life also means planning for the time when you may need more care. ​This could happen gradually or through an unexpected event.

Some points to consider:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help​
  • Think ahead to how your needs will change​
  • Be flexible – while you might want to live at home, there could be a better option​
  • Get informed about services that can help you

Living options

Planning ahead involves thinking about what living options are available for when you may require more care.  ​

While most Australians wish to age at home, it’s good to have a knowledge of the options available so you can choose the option to best suit you.

  • Retirement living​
  • Supported living​
  • Residential Aged Care​
  • Living in your own home and ​accessing home care
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