An exploratory study of elderly leisure engagements among residents in a contiguous milieu within a regional context
Research in leisure activities and leisure in general within the older generation among the population is still in its development stages in South Africa. For the elderly i.e. those people above the age of sixty years, this is a period for accepting new roles and a new life status. During this time of life, emotional, physical and financial adjustments may be made in relation to the aging process. The purpose of the study was to identify the various types of leisure participation within the older adult generation and to examine differences in participation between gender and population categories. In addition, the study examined whether the elderly are diverse in terms of life satisfaction, health status, stress and sense of security. Twenty in-depth interviews were conducted in both urban and semi-urban areas. This was followed by a quantitative study. Whilst a small sample of 75 respondents was interviewed the results provide an unpretentious start and add to the findings of other researchers on leisure activities. The results of the study reveal that the popularity of leisure activity varied according to gender and population categories. Leisure
participation levels of the elderly were limited, depending, at least in part, on the community in which they live and their particular life circumstances. The majority of the elderly showed a high level of life dissatisfaction during this stage of their lives and subsequently reported high levels of stress, insecurity and poor health status. Gaining a deeper understanding of the elderly leisure activities is not an option for recreational, leisure professionals and the government, but a necessity for future growth of leisure in an enabling environment for a rapidly aging population. Policies need to be in place to ensure that older adults have access to leisure opportunities and facilities in order to participate in meaningful engagements within their communities.
Key words: Leisure, elderly, life satisfaction, stress, sense of security