The Case for Leisure Education in Preparation for the Retirement Transition


  • Douglas Alfred Kleiber Department of Counseling and Human Development Services
  • Brittany Danielle Linde University of Tennessee Health Science Center at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.


leisure education, retirement, retirement preparation


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Aging populations and extended life spans have drawn increased attention to factors affecting the quality of later life. Retirement is the event that most commonly and prominently marks the transition into later life. This transition in most cases involves a dramatic shift of focus from all that comes with a full-time job to other things, often including a new perspective on leisure. This article reviews research on the nature of retirement, identifying both common gains and losses, with particular attention to a landmark study by Robert Weiss (2005). The overall evidence is that retirement is one of the more agreeable transitions in life, often coming with an embrace of leisure, but not for everyone, least of all for those who are unprepared. Retirement preparation (RP) programs have been around for a long time, and some attention is given here to a mixed history of effectiveness; but a central failing, as this paper argues, is that they have not done justice to the importance of leisure in later life. The case is thus made for the importance of leisure education as a critical part of retirement preparation, with specific suggestions for service providers. Whether they offer programs themselves or partner with others, such programs can prove to be an important marketing tool for attracting future involvement from this growing segment of the population. Those who do take direct responsibility for retirement preparation should mix leisure education goals and strategies in with the consideration of finances, health, housing and other commonly discussed components of RP programs. The case for leisure is made by the now ample evidence for the impact of leisure activities and attitudes on well-being for those retiring at this point in history. The extant empirical literature on the subject is reviewed and implications are drawn for leisure education priorities and strategies—including value clarification, resource identification, exposure, problem solving and decision making—employed previously with other populations. This article thus takes as its purpose the tasks of clarifying the meaning and potential of leisure in adjusting to retirement; identifying the current status of retirement preparation programs in the United States; demonstrating the value of giving greater attention to understanding leisure in these programs; and offering possibilities and strategies for doing so. 

Author Biography

Douglas Alfred Kleiber, Department of Counseling and Human Development Services

Professor of Leisure Studies, Psychology and Gerontology

Department of Counseling and Human Development Services