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How retirees spend their days

Watching television is the second-most-popular activity -- after sleeping.

By MSN Money Partner Jun 27, 2011 12:20PM

This post comes from Emily Brandon at partner site U.S. News & World Report.


Many people dream about how they will spend the eight or more extra hours per day they will have once they no longer need to go to work. However, Americans between ages 65 and 74 spend only about 1.7 more hours per day on leisure activities than the population as a whole, according to the most recent American Time Use Survey, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics last week.


Instead, most older Americans spend their extra free time lingering slightly longer over everyday activities like meals and household chores, and they watch considerably more TV than the population as a whole. Here is how Americans spend their time in retirement:


Sleeping. Retirees generally get more sleep each night than Americans overall, but not as much as you might think. Seniors generally devote 9.67 hours per day to sleep and personal care, about 12 minutes more than all individuals age 15 and older.

Watching TV. Watching television is the second-most-popular activity after sleeping. Retirees spend 3.8 hours per weekday in front of the TV, which is an hour and 15 minutes more screen time each day than the population as a whole.


Leisure activities. Seniors spend significantly more time reading and relaxing or thinking than their younger counterparts, although they spend less than an hour per day on each activity. They also allocate a few minutes more each day to socializing and exercising than individuals overall.


Meals. Retirees linger over meals longer than younger Americans. Seniors between ages 65 and 74 eat and drink for 1.42 hours per day, compared with the 1.25 hours all Americans spend preparing and consuming meals each day.

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Household chores. Seniors spend more than half an hour longer on household chores per day than the typical American. They allocate 2.41 hours to cleaning and repairs on a typical day, compared with the 1.79 hours most citizens spend managing their households.


Shopping. Older Americans have more time to haggle and comparison-shop than their younger counterparts. Seniors spend nearly an hour each day purchasing goods and services.


Working. Many people continue to work past age 65. The typical person between ages 65 and 74 now works for more than an hour each day.


Helping others. Retirees devote just over half an hour to organizational, civic and religious activities each day, slightly longer than the 21 minutes the typical American allocates to such activities. While seniors spend significantly less time per day providing care to children or other household members than younger people, they allocate an above-average amount of time to helping people who live outside their households.


How Americans age 65 to 74 spend their day in hours

(Results for the total population age 15 and older are in parenthesis.)

  • Personal care activities (including sleep): 9.67 (9.47).
  • Watching TV: 3.77 (2.52).
  • Household activities: 2.41 (1.79).
  • Eating and drinking: 1.42 (1.25).
  • Working: 1.15 (3.50).
  • Purchasing goods and services: 0.94 (0.75).
  • Reading: 0.62 (0.29).
  • Socializing: 0.59 (0.55).
  • Relaxing and thinking: 0.55 (0.28).
  • Organizational, civic and religious activities: 0.52 (0.35).
  • Leisure computer use: 0.38 (0.39).
  • Exercise: 0.31 (0.29).
  • Caring for non-household members: 0.31 (0.21).
  • Telephone calls, mail, and email: 0.23 (0.18).
  • Caring for household members: 0.11 (0.51).
  • Education activities: 0 (0.47).

More on U.S. News & World Report and MSN Money

Jul 3, 2011 5:24PM
I'm 71 years old.  I worked until I was 67 and half, because they didn't need me anymore.  Oh I had plenty offer for jobs as I am bi-lingual, but I thought I would try the retired life, after all, I had been waiting for it.
But the last thing that I want to do is spend more time to sleep, to prepare my meals, do chores and so on.  I simplified my life, to the minimum. So, now I really have plenty time to myself.
I found a part-time job as a pet sitter, which is not a real job, since I love animals and love to walk  with the dogs I'm watching.
When I'm not pet sitting, I read, walk or ride my bike, go downtown and just wander, I love the atmosphere, specially on week-end.  I also spend a lot more time painting as I am a portraitist, I do that for myself, I don't exhibit any of the pastels that I have done so far, give them away mostly.  
Love traveling, go to France every year to spend a month or so.
Isn't that a lot better than sleeping, doing chores or eating???
For those who said that they love their job and wont retire, I said that too, once, ... I should have retired a long long time ago...Because as I'm getting older, it will be harder and harder to do some of the things I once loved, some I can't do anymore, such as jogging, hiking, etc...
I never got bored once so far, too much to do....  I just love being retired
Jun 27, 2011 12:47PM
I live with my son & his family & I keep busy most of day doing general upkeep in house  such as dishes, laundry, gardening & yard care. I can in the fall & help wherever & whenever I can. I clean my own rooms & do crafting . Both my son & his wife work & they have 2 teenage sons still at home. I feel my days go by very quickly & I,m still useful & active.  
Jun 28, 2011 11:08AM
my husband retired entirely almost a year ago, I still work one part time (more hours in the spring) job having retired from the second.  As I age (I have severe osteoarthrytis) I find that I do indeed  spend more time doing most things.  It's a natural progression of age and my illness.  However, I enjoy having more time for hobbies such as gardening and reading, and I enjoy having time to spend socializing with my  toddler  grandson a couple of days a week when we babysit so his parents can work . We also finally have time to visit a museum or art gallery on a weekday or to go a summer concert in the evening or clear out and sort a lifetime of accumulated 'stuff'.  And we exercise regularly which is more than we did when we both held down time-sucking office jobs.  My 92 year old father-in-law also lives with us and we appreciate having the time to spend with him while we can. 
Jul 3, 2011 5:19PM
I still wake at 5AM every morning,I volunteer 5 days a week some for a couple of hours a day (food pantry) reading with second graders one day a week for 4 hours & loving it.One day a week at a local TV station and weekends off .I also make time to be with my 2 year old grandson.The rest of my time is with the TV & computer & my flower/vegetable garden,andSmile some time for reading...................phew
Jul 3, 2011 4:03PM
I'm 55 and I retired six months ago. Once I do my daily basics of household choirs, I'm done for the day. Sometimes I get bored to tears, and loving it. After years and years of working 65 hours a week, the down time is great. You don't have to do anything to enjoy the day. As a cancer survivor, I know everyday is precious.
Jul 3, 2011 3:26PM

I'm age 52 and retiring in 4 months. I worked for it, and I'm going to have a blast.


Hummm, interesting article. I can't imagine this is accurate. I'm 75 and worked at an outside job until I was 68 and started a small business which I closed 2 years ago. My husband is still working at 69. I may just be beginning to fit into this, however most of the people I know over 65 are still working, are doing a great deal of travelling abroad, in their RV, visiting family out of town, doing volunteer work and outreach in the community. They run the symphony board, the college board, the Aminal League, etc. When I look around to see whose volunteering in the Community, I don't see any young people. The seniors I know are painting, indulding their fantasy to play a guitar, banjo, etc. They are attendinng folk, jazz and Bluegrass festivals. I wonder who the polled.
Jul 3, 2011 4:34PM
These statistics are so diluted that they almost have no impact at all. Is the real story about how millions of Americans continue to work past the retirement expectation of 65? The reasons for this are more pertinent, as simple economics is not the only answer. How many newly-minted "seniors" are unable, either due to skill set, company policy, interest, or a combination of such to continue their full time work? How many seniors who "still work" are now in minimum-wage work situations? How many seniors planned to work beyond 65? These are the questions to address in this type of article.
I know a few people that are retired and some of them admit that they are busier now than they were when they were working. I guess it depends upon what you get involved in. This is the time where you decide what you want to do. You are not on anyone else's time. If you want to retire and not do anything then go right ahead. You deserve it.
Jul 3, 2011 8:41PM
I retired when my re-occuring hernias dictated that I had to.  I'm bored out of my mind, and find myself more iritable that I've ever been in my life.  I started working at 12 cleaning Spring Heifer barns for .50 cents a day, then caddied.  Never been lazy and when needed worked 2-3 jobs a day.  When you have to 'shut it down' it's hard, but no one wants a man in his 70's that would work for no healthcare benefits, wouldn't have a hang over, doesn't know what being late means, works until the jobs done.  We're at a point in our Nations progress, when experience doesn't mean much of anything, i.e. our administration.  You young folks be careful what you wish for, you may get put out to pasture long before you're ready.  Happy 4th Y'all
Jul 3, 2011 4:29PM
This information is about as useful as the average American phone number.  Averaging the responses of various people with different lifestyles doesn't inform me at all.  Some 60 year olds work 10 hours a day and others pursue leisure activites all day and still others volunteer 3 days a week.  Saying that each work 1 hour a day, pursue leisure activities 1.7 hours more, and volutunteer 1.25 hours more is meaningless.
Jul 3, 2011 7:09PM
Pulled the pin at 58 and absolutely love it. Wish everyone could. Days fill themselves. Fun to spend a half a day going after a gallon of milk if I want to.
Jul 3, 2011 7:33PM
well, where are hobbies.....sewing crafts...traveling.....building bird houses.....quilting....entertaining grandchildren.....attending sports events, including afore-mentioned grandchildren......we are both very busy with activities, gardening..etc
Jul 3, 2011 10:38PM
I donno, I'm only 62,  but I spend much more time walking around (comparison shopping), walking in parks,and such a day.  I spend less hours sleeping.  More meditation.  More time in the bath reading (multitasking).  More hours watching televisionand playing on the computer multitasking again.  More hours cleaning, sewing, etc, planning.  I don't work.  Spend as much time as I can with the grandkids.  Husband works part time.  Spend hours reading either books or on computer and other than a casual hello, we rarely are with others except immediate family.  I really don't feel the need for friends unless they need me for something and that's fine.  I find it very easy to talk to strangers, but don't feel exceptionally social.  We love to travel the long about way to places.  So much of the country is missed by the need to be there at a specific time.  My best friend is my husband, my second best is my cat.
Jul 3, 2011 5:00PM
57 years old and LOVE (that's, right.. LOVE) my job.  Hourly employee and I typically pull down 20-30 hrs OT consistently every 2 weeks (not some salaried sucker putting in that extra 20-30 hrs per pay period and not getting paid for it).  So, yeah, I'm in it for the excellent money they throw at me.  I get 4 weeks off per year, so that's fine by me as far as taking 1-2 vacas a year.  Hoping to 'stay in the game' another 8-10 years & keep my mind & body active.  Contemplated early retirement, but I'd be bored outta my gourd.      
Jul 3, 2011 9:54PM
I'm retired and love every minute of it..I worked hard for many years now it my time to do as I please and I stay pretty active doing things I enjoy..
Jul 3, 2011 7:45PM
Your generalizations are way of base.Before retirement my wife and I traveled the world for five weeks of every year for ten years,when I retired at 63 I had saved enough to winter in Florida for 14 years and played golf 5 days a week,summers at home I was on the golf course every day it didn't rain.During the retirement years in FL my wife waited tables and played a lot of bingo with friends,at home she volunteered at the nursing home and hospital.When we outlived our savings,health issues made us adapt to living on Social Security $23,600 a year.We watch TV less than 3 hours a week.My wife now has dementia that has cut into our activities.I can still visit with my friends at the Elk's lodge 3 days a week.We are now in our mid 80's,have lunch out twice a week and dinner out once a week.My retiree company insurance plus Medicare covers us 100%,our meds cost us $1.00 per month.There is a new car and an old truck in my driveway paid for.Even being on SS we are able to help a grandson with his college expenses plus we donate $100 per month to the local food charity.All of my retired friends live pretty much like I do.You should expand your investagative area.It sounds like you never got outside the deep south.We have no wants and few needs.This may all change if the Repubs can divert my SS into their pockets.
Jul 3, 2011 9:12PM
what about sex? I heard that retired people have more sex than young. Really would like to find out if that's a truth
Jul 3, 2011 11:28PM
My wife and I both retired 5 years ago to help our oldest daughter out with child care. The cost of daycare was just too high for a young family starting out. We are up to two grandkids and a third on the way. My daughter and her husband continue to work long hours and we are glad to help them. We spend about 10 hours a day for five days a week doing this. We have absolutely no regrets doing this! We volunteer several hours a week at our church and also help in a soup kitchen several times a month. We use a great deal of our time fixing and remodeling parts of our home that we were just too busy to deal with when we worked. We have a great social network of friends, many older than us, whose lives are certainly busier than what this study has shown. In fact, I find I do have less time to do many of the activities I thought I would be doing in retirement. (By the way, I loved mny job too. Rarely missed a day of work and thought I would do it for many more years than I did. But when the time comes, you know you are ready for retirement. )
Jul 3, 2011 11:01PM
I retired from a good government job at age 55. That was 25 years ago.  I never looked back.  My life has been busy and I never have to wonder how I will fill the hours of the day.  I belong to several clubs, a very active VFW Post, a horseshoe league and the historical society.  Between my garden, yard and pool I have more then enough work to keep me busy.  I also do all the food shopping for my wife.  Life is good.  I hope for 20 more years.
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