Social Indicators Research

, Volume 113, Issue 1, pp 355-372

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Ageing, Leisure, and Social Connectedness: How could Leisure Help Reduce Social Isolation of Older People?

  • Vera ToepoelAffiliated withDepartment of Leisure Studies, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Tilburg University Email author 


This study investigates the relation between leisure activities and the social status of the elderly based on a heterogeneous sample of the Dutch population. Close relationships are also analyzed to identify which people could serve as successful stimulators of leisure participation. The social profile confirms that older people have fewer social contacts and often feel lonely. This study shows that leisure activities explain a significant part of older people’s social connectedness. Voluntary work, cultural activities, holiday, sports, reading books, hobbies and shopping are found to be successful predictors for social connectedness of older people. Watching TV, listening to the radio, and spending time behind the computer (passive activities) were not associated with social connectedness. Friends correlate positively to participation in leisure activities. Partners play a role in participation in cultural activities and sports; parents play a role in participation in voluntary work and holidays; siblings play a role in voluntary work and sports; and children play a role in cultural activities, reading books, and shopping. Local communities can use these close relationships and develop special programs to increase social connectedness and hence improve quality of life for older adults.


Social connectedness Social support Older adults Social isolation Intervention Social indicators