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Routine is the secret to continued independence in later life

By EDF | Posted February 22, 2019
  • 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. 

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.

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.”

Notes to Editors 

For further information or more in-depth data please contact

Further findings from the research

The survey of more than 2,000 65+ year olds shows that a majority are physically active and involved in their local community:

  • Almost two thirds (65%) of 70+ year olds still exercise out of their home at least once a fortnight;
  • one in five (18%) aged 70+ exercise daily out of their home;
  • almost half (43%) aged 70 and over regularly walk for leisure;
  • while 40% of 70 and overs garden in a typical day;
  • nearly two thirds (62%) of aged 70 and over go shopping on a typical day;
  • and many still hold an active role in their community, with nearly one in five (18%) of 70-74 year olds volunteering, and a fifth (22%) of 70 and over who work are still working a minimum of four days a week.

The research highlighted that the commitment to routine is present at every stage of a person’s later life, with every age between 65 and 80 taking part in regular activities:

  • For 65-69 year olds, exercising proves to be extremely important to their weekly routine, with 66% exercising out of the home weekly;
  • One in five (18%) 70-74 year olds continue to volunteer;
  • And two thirds (65%) of over 80 year olds go shopping in a typical day.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2,047 adults, aged 65 and over, of which 1,396 were aged 70 and over. Fieldwork was undertaken between 3rd and 9th January 2019. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 65+).

About Howz

Howz is a technology-based product developed by Intelesant Ltd that is aimed at supporting people to live independently, whilst letting those that matter to them know how they're doing. The Howz smart home monitoring kit costs £149 with a £9 monthly subscription (the first month is free). Customers can purchase via Developed and tested extensively with EDF Energy customers over the past two years, the unobtrusive sensors can detect factors such as movement and temperature in a person’s home to build up a pattern of daily behaviour.

[1] RAND Europe; Why sleep matters – the economic costs of insufficient sleep: A cross-country comparative analysis, September 2016

For more information

Antoinette Merchant
External Communications Manager – Customers
M: +44 (0)7384 529 185

About EDF

EDF is helping Britain achieve Net Zero by leading the transition to a cleaner, low emission, electric future and tackling climate change. It is the UK’s largest producer of low-carbon electricity(1) and supplies millions of customers with electricity and gas.

It generates low carbon electricity from five nuclear power stations and more than thirty onshore wind farms and two offshore wind farms.

EDF is leading the UK's nuclear renaissance with the construction of a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C, and there are advanced plans for a replica at Sizewell C in Suffolk. Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C will provide low carbon electricity to meet 14% of UK demand and power around 12 million homes.

EDF is one of the UK’s largest investors in renewables, with more than 1.5GW of renewable generation in operation and almost 14GW in planning and development across a range of technologies including onshore and offshore wind, solar and battery storage. We are constructing our largest offshore wind farm in Britain – the 450 MW Neart na Gaoithe project in Scotland.

EDF is helping its customers, both in business and at home, take their first steps to sustainably powering their lives. Whether it is buying an electric car, generating and storing electricity, selling energy back to the grid or installing a heat pump. EDF is one of the largest suppliers to British business and a leading supplier of innovative energy solutions that are helping businesses become more energy independent. In addition, the company’s energy services business, Dalkia, is one of the largest technical service providers in the UK and Ireland.

EDF is part of EDF Group, the world’s biggest electricity generator. In the UK, the company employs around 14,000 people at locations across England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

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