Routine is the secret to continued independence in later life

Posted On: 
22nd February 2019

An overwhelming majority of 70+ year olds want to maintain their independence in later life, and key to achieving this is sticking to a routine, according to new online research from EDF Energy and tech start-up Howz.

  • Four out of five people aged 70 and over believe that maintaining a regular routine supports their continued independence
  • Exercise, shopping and volunteering all contribute to an independent life and remain high on the agenda for many in this age group
  • More than three quarters of those aged 70+ say independence makes them feel happier
  • EDF Energy and Howz offers smart home monitoring system to empower the elderly, or those with additional needs, to live independently for longer. 

It’s already known that a regular pattern at bedtime is important for health [1], and now this latest research has found that sticking to a routine during the day also contributes to older people feeling independent. 95% of 70+ year olds want to retain their independence, with four out of five adults aged 70 and over (81%) attributing their routine as the secret to an independent life. Two thirds (67%) are remaining active in their communities to prolong their independence.

The report, commissioned in partnership with YouGov, found that of the 70+ year olds to whom maintaining their independence is important, nearly four in five (77%) believe it makes them feel more positive, while around the same number (78%) say it helps them feel in control, and nearly half (45%) say it makes them feel younger.

However, while most older people value their independence, many are anxious about being a burden on their family and friends; nearly three quarters (73%) of those aged 70+ who said independence was important also said they don’t want to be a burden, and one in five (21%) of 70+ year olds believe their friends and family worry about them unnecessarily.  

As a result many are looking for ways to maintain their independence to help alleviate that burden. Around two thirds (65%) of 65+ year olds would consider exploring the use of technology to support their current independent lives, and a fifth (21%) of over 80 year olds would consider using home sensors to track their movements and let their family members know they are well.

Baroness Joan Bakewell said: “As we grow older, conversation usually leans towards what we can’t do, rather than what we can. Our daily routine – whether that’s gardening, going to the shops to pick up the paper or remaining active in the community – is empowering and doesn’t only keep us independent, but keeps us at our happiest. Smart home technology is also playing a pivotal role in helping support us in our quest for continued independence through routine, as well as alleviating stress on friends and family, and we should do all we can to embrace such technologies.”

EDF Energy and Howz commissioned the research to shed a more positive light on this generation. Determined to empower the over 65s, the two companies recently launched their non-intrusive smart home monitoring system that uses movement sensors, smart plugs and Internet of Things (IoT) technology to give anyone the ability to live independently for longer. The system is designed to recognise a routine, and send alerts when the user starts to deviate from their normal day, a common tell-tale sign that something might not be quite right.

Béatrice Bigois, Managing Director, Customers for EDF Energy said: “We can all identify those parts of the day that are just second nature to us, like that morning cup of tea or the trip to the shops. For this older generation, being able to maintain these routine activities has a beneficial impact on their feeling of independence. Working with Howz we can identify a daily routine and use this as a way to monitor health and wellbeing, ultimately supporting that all important independence.”