How Retirees Spend Their Days

Most retirees linger over meals and household chores and watch a lot of TV.

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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 only spend about 1.7 hours more 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 this week. Instead, most older Americans spend their extra free time lingering slightly longer over everyday activities like meals and household chores and watch considerably more TV than the population as a whole. Here is how Americans spend their time in retirement.

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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 activities, about 12 minutes more than all individuals age 15 and over.

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.

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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 to the 1.25 hours all Americans spend preparing and consuming meals each day.

Household chores. Seniors spend over 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 to the 1.79 hours most citizens spend managing their household.

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 over an hour each day.

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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 these 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 household.

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 e-mail 0.23 (0.18)
  • Caring for household members 0.11 (0.51)
  • Education activities 0 (0.47)
  • Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010.

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