• Leonie Lewis

My retirement 2…. Is Age Just a Number?

I read a beautiful Facebook post about age, written by a former colleague, celebrating her special birthday, Her post, resonated so perfectly with my current retirement status.

She noted that we “seem to be ageing differently to our parents and grandparents.” This is evidenced in many ways; when people say that 60 (my approx. age…I’m older than that!) is the new 40, grey hair is fashionable for men and now women, and most of us are living for longer than in previous generations.

Retirement for my parents and definitely my grandparents, was fixed when a certain age was reached- 60 and 65 respectively. This age was defined as pensionable and a pensioner was understood as being someone of senior years, elderly.

Today, when seniors are asked when old age begins, the say, at 75. Indeed, in a recent Japanese study, old age is applied to those aged between 75 and 89 and those over 90 receive the title, Super Old! Phew, I’ve got a good 10 years before I reach the old age category…..and then, the light bulb moment.

The moment when I considered my age in years and recognised that It was time to move on and consider new options whilst I still felt physically well and interested in pursuing new vistas.

I was speaking at a Jewish Volunteering Network (JVN) event during Silver Week. Silver week aims to combat isolation often experienced by seniors living alone, whilst at the same time celebrating the value and knowledge older people contribute to our community. I realised that I just wasn’t old in age /years terms anymore, that my pending retirement from JVN wasn’t going to give me a State pension; having worked for 40 years, a change by the Govt regarding pensions meant I and others born in 1955 or after would no longer receive state pension at 60, proving that people in my age bracket were fit enough to continue to work!)

The participants at the event were aged between 64 and 89 and all eager to utilise their time effectively, to learn new skills, to meet new people, to volunteer in the community. Some were considering volunteering to learn something new and then rebuild confidence to apply for paid work. I was enthused by their zest for life and the energy in the room and shared with them that I would be joining their ranks in the very near future.

As Director of the JVN, I shared the plethora of volunteering choices that were available to them, including using their professional and life experiences; opportunities in mentoring, befriending, tutoring, and guiding. Trustee Positions in the sector were also suggested plus helping with administration, IT and stewarding.

Many signed up then and there, eagerly anticipating new beginnings. Age was not discussed and was immaterial, even those who were more limited by mobility did not see this as a hindrance..

Verbalising my retirement to them was a cathartic light bulb moment. I too would join this wonderful club and yes, I too realised that a vast range of options was now also open to me. I have since become a guide at Bentley Priory Museum and a Trustee for a charity called Paperweight, more about these in another blog.

Bentley Priory Museum. The Rotunda

Thank you Silver Week participants for empowering me, thank you State Pension scheme for recognising that I’m not yet ready to draw my retirement pension, thank you for a society that is getting better valuing its seniors, thank you to fashion trends encouraging me to be a youthful grey granny!!!

Age is therefore not a state of mind. If you don’t mind it doesn’t matter! I don't mind, do you??

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