How to have a long and healthy retirement

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Mon 15 May 2017 06.00 BST Last modified on Sat 25 Nov 2017 03.03 GMT by Ann Robinson The Guardian

From left: record-holder Jack Reynolds, 105; cyclist Robert Marchand, 105; and pianist Alice Herz-Sommer, 110. Photograph: Guardian Design Team/PA/AFP/Sophia Evans

We’re supposed to enjoy a happy retirement, but often we experience poor health and loneliness.  There are some things you can do and the Guardian article explained these.

It quoted economist James Banks of the University of Manchester, who said that it depends on what you have come from and what you are going to.  He pointed out that if you have had a successful high status job but have had little time to make friends, retirement may be a negative step even with a big pension pot. If you’ve given up a stressful dangerous job with a lot of stress it could be good news.

It also quoted academic Gill Mein, at St George’s, University of London, who worked on the Whitehall II study, looking at the social determinants of health among British civil servants.  She suggested developing a hobby or interest while still employed,  and involving your partner/spouse in your change in role at home once you retire.

Professor Deborah Schofield, of the University of Sydney pointed out: “Moving into a planned retirement from choice is very different from having to leave because of illness. Control over your plans – such as paying off the mortgage, building up some savings and waiting for kids to leave home – are thrown into disarray, you may have less income and also fewer plans. You can find yourself at a loose end without companionship.”   She also said that the three main causes of ill health early retirement are pain, arthritis and mental health, which aren’t as well treated as say cancer.  See RetirementDrive and MindDrive for more information. 

Geriatrician Dr Jeremy Jacobs, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem suggested that old people who rate their health as being poor are more likely to be lonely, depressed, poor, obese or have back pain. He also advocated that you need to stay mobile and go out and keep mentally, socially and physically active. 

It gave four great role models:

Keep moving: Frenchman Robert Marchand, 105 cycled 14 miles round a velodrome in under an hour. He worked until his late 60s and only got into sport at 68, once he retired.

Try something new: Jack Reynolds at 105 became the oldest person in the world to ride a rollercoaster on the Twistosaurus ride at Flamingo Land in North Yorkshire. He also was the oldest person to do the ice bucket challenge for charity at 102, got a tattoo (“Jacko 6.4.1912”) and flew on a Tiger Moth biplane at 104. He wants to race in a Formula 1 car.

Stay engaged: Immunologist Dr William Frankland, co-authored an academic paper in 2018 on burning feet syndrome – a consequence of malnutrition among soldiers held, as he was, in a Japanese PoW camp in the second world war. He retired from private practice as an allergy specialist in his 90s.

Remain optimistic: Alice Herz-Sommer, a pianist who died in 2014 at the age of 110, survived a concentration camp and swam and played the piano every day until well past her centenary. When interviewed in 2006 interview, she said her survival was based on her temperament: “This optimism and this discipline. Punctually, at 10am, I am sitting there at the piano, with everything in order around me. For 30 years I have eaten the same – fish or chicken. Good soup, and this is all … I walk a lot with terrible pains, but after 20 minutes it is much better. Sitting or lying is not good.” She also said: “I am looking for the nice things in life. I know about the bad things, but I look only for the good things.”

 

YouDrive thinks…

There are a lot of great thoughts and examples in this article.  Getting older needn’t be bad, and it certainly beats the alternative!

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