Impact of Leisure Activities on the Well-being of Elders: Evidence from Sri Lanka

Author: W S M Goonatilaka1, W Indralal De Silva2
1 University of Kelaniya, Kelaniya, Sri Lanka.
2 Department of Demography, University of Colombo, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Conference/Journal: J Cross Cult Gerontol
Date published: 2023 Mar 21
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1007/s10823-023-09474-6. , Word Count: 331

Sri Lanka demonstrates the most rapid aging process among countries in South Asia. The high prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the meanwhile results in more than 70% of deaths in the population, a factor that would curtail leisure activities of elders significantly. The objective of this study was to investigate the engagement of elders in leisure activities in Sri Lanka, and to examine the relationship between leisure activities and their well-being. The study was conducted in 2018 in a rural district of Sri Lanka adopting a mixed methods approach. Simple random sampling technique was used to select the respondents aged between 55 and 74 years, and face-to-face interviews were conducted with 300 respondents. Qualitative data was also collected from ten key informants while a few observations were also made on selected activities of elders in the study area. The research found that a two-thirds of the surveyed respondents were suffering from NCDs, showing a clear impact on their leisure activities. The presence of leisure activities was much lower among NCD affected elders (48%) compared to NCD free elders (80%). The majority of respondents possess sufficient and accurate knowledge on how to prevent NCDs, but they rarely practiced it. Leisure activities were significantly higher among males (75%) compared to females (43%). Males participated in leisure activities such as, gardening/agriculture etc. (99%), while females were engaged in religious activities such as visiting such places and meditation (98%). Leisure engagement demonstrated a positive impact on their life satisfaction. Although a sizable proportion of elders was engaged in leisure activities, analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data supported the view that the intensity of activities may not be helpful to maintain good health. Life satisfaction and well-being of elders are crucial for rapidly aging Sri Lankan society. Motivating elders and others, including school children, via strengthening of related policies and programs would reduce the NCD burden and enable present and future elders to enjoy a more fulfilling life in old age.

Keywords: Elders; Leisure activities; Life satisfaction; NCDs.

PMID: 36943613 DOI: 10.1007/s10823-023-09474-6