Active ageing: Postretirement working – or leisure activities in the community

Society increasingly views retirement as a time for (productive) socially meaningful leisure activities.


Society increasingly views retirement as a time for (productive) socially meaningful leisure activities. Like older adults without disabilities, AAWID seek to maintain an active, meaningful postretirement lifestyle, rather retiring to a quiet, slow-paced life. Some people, who are physically and mentally well, will choose to continue fulltime work even beyond the typical retirement age of 65, whereas those who retire will seek other ways to fill their days with meaningful activities or programmes. These programmes sometimes focus on alternative options for AAWID who need slower pace and modified workdays. Nevertheless, based on the concept of active ageing, these programmes should not only help to make life of AAWID more bearable and relieve tensions, they should also provide enhanced opportunities for learning, skill development, and help to build and maintain social relationships and networks within the community.

Till today, the majority of postretirement leisure activities that are offered to AAWID are based on engagement in casual rather than serious work- or leisure activities. This is because of the unfounded belief that people with disabilities do not have the necessary skills and competencies to develop more positive and meaningful work- or leisure identities. Work time as well as Leisure time for AAWID often consists to a large degree of ‘killing’ time, instead of enjoying ‘quality’ time. For example, casual forms of postretirement work consist of repetitive piecework within environments that do not really promote self-determination.  Casual leisure usually involve people going to see their favourite football team, watch television, or listing to music. Serious work- and leisure on the other hand is the systematic pursuit of a core activity that is highly substantial, interesting, and fulfilling and where participants find a career in acquiring and expressing a combination of its special skills, knowledge, and experience. Another advantage of serious work- and leisure activities is that they are mostly organised within the community, and thus facilitate the social inclusion of AAWID in community settings, creating opportunities for new social networks and friendships.

Nevertheless, serious work and leisure also demands consistent effort, devotion and the occasional need to persevere, not only by the AAWID but also by the network that supports him/her. It is up to the supporting network to promote and facilitate work or serious leisure activities that are age- and ability appropriate. Support should therefore extend beyond the environment (e.g. adaption to the needs of the AAWID) and include support with planning, organizing, travel training, money, and communication.

This unit contains three mayor exercises divided into 15 smaller exercise activities. All activities are explained in the manual. The annex’s gather some extra templates, worksheets, pictures, … needed to complete the exercises. The exercises are designed to develop AAWID’s thinking about retirement and explore different possibilities of post-retirement activities that may take place within the local community.

  • Exercise 1: retirement
  • Exercise 2: work and leisure activities
  • Exercise 3: my dream retirement plan

The exercises are designed to be run in the specified order, but can be delivered in any way that you see fit.  Each exercise is designed to last approximately two hours but this will vary, depending on the circumstances and the group. It’s useful to have a recap at the beginning of each exercise and ask the participants what they can remember about the previous one, and to finish each exercise with a discussion as this helps build on what they have learned.

The exercises are developed for aawid who are able to communicate verbally and understand

simple instructions. They are created as group sessions however, they could be tailored for use with individuals if necessary. The exercises may need to be adapted for students with more complex learning needs by using more visual or live props and role plays.

To adapt, also think about the following questions:

  • What is their current framework/background of knowledge?
  • What do they understand about what is happening in their life right now? What do they understand about the future?
  • How much more could they be helped to understand? What ‘knowledge chunks’ could, and should, be added to their current framework of knowledge?

Learning outcomes

Knowledge Skills


  1. Know and understand the concept of retirement
  2. Know and reflect on the reasons why people retire
  3. Reflect on what people do when they retire
  4. Identify and reflect on possible pros and cons of retirement
  5. Reflect on personal retirement plan
  6. Determine on the pace of the retirement plan

Work and leisure activities

  1. Discriminate work activities from leisure activities
  2. Know and understand what are work activities and leisure activities
  3. Reflect on their own work, leisure activities
  4. Understand difference between work activities and voluntary work activities
  5. Identify and reflect on postretirement (voluntary) work activities and or leisure activities
  6. Determine the pace by which they want to engage in these activities
  7. Reflect on skills needed to perform postretirement activities in the community

My personal retirement plan

  1. Developing a personal retirement plan
  2. Locating a suitable community or volunteering group

Other units

Unit 7
Social participation

Social connectness: keeping in touch with family and friends

Unit 9
Social participation

Social engagement: helping others and contributing to society

Unit 10
Social participation

Social Media