Embracing the diversity of leisure in later life

  • Tania Wiseman (Presenter)

Activity: External talk or presentationOral presentation


Most older people in the UK are not ill, poor or alone, there are other more subtle and insidious constraints to occupational participation in a healthy later life. There is conflict between the freedom to enjoy later life leisure and the politics of active ageing, that people of any age can learn from, because active ageing as an idea influences policy from the cradle to the grave (Wiseman 2021).
How people negotiate leisure, work, self-care, and care of others in the context of everyday later life is explored; with a special focus on how the occupational therapy profession interacts with metanarratives about ageing (Wiseman and Sadlo 2015). Occupational identities are publicly constructed, but to really engage with what later life has to offer, we need to understand that the kinds of leisure that are socially sanctioned and promoted in support of healthy living reflect the habits and behaviours and preferences of more socioeconomically privileged people (Leaver and Wiseman 2016).
Occupational therapy could embrace plural understandings of what it means to be an ‘active’ ager. Much leisure in later life is home based. It is cheap, familiar, comfortable and hidden from prying eyes. It is social, with deeply connected, concerned unique people negotiating freedom within constraints. It brings joy and connection first, and it is how and when people express their free will (Finnie et al 2017). If we appropriate it and insist on promoting narrow and instrumentally driven forms of leisure, we will alienate the people who most need our services.

Wiseman, T. (2021). Leisure in later life. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
Finnie, K., Wiseman, T. and Ravenscroft, N., 2017. Rambling on: Exploring the complexity of walking as a meaningful activity. In The Routledge international handbook of walking (pp. 253-263). Routledge
Leaver, R. and Wiseman, T., 2016. Garden visiting as a meaningful occupation for people in later life. British journal of occupational therapy, 79(12), pp.768-775.
Period14 Jun 2022
Event titleRoyal college of occupational therapists Annual conference 2022: Connecting health and social care, Powering breakthroughs, Embracing the digital world, Innovating our profession
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • Later life,
  • critical active ageing
  • Occupational therapy
  • Education
  • constraints
  • leisure
  • passive leisure