DR Rob Gandy  I  UK

When you are asked the question “Do you want to retire?” then you will probably be one of a huge chorus that bellows “Yes! Absolutely!” 

Admittedly your response will be influenced by your financial situation, particularly if you have got a good package. But the last annual report on the health of the nation, from the Professor Sally Davies, the Government’s Chief Medical Officer, suggested that people of retirement age might do well to stay in work if they can, or else get involved in community and voluntary activities that will keep both mind and body in better condition than sitting in a fireside chair. She stated that the boomer generation should not think about putting their feet up when they retire – and maybe not retire at all – for the sake of their health.

Retirement presents a real opportunity for baby boomers to be more active than ever before

Professor Sally Davies

She also said that “Retirement presents a real opportunity for baby boomers to be more active than ever before. For many people it is a chance to take on new challenges, and it is certainly not the start of a slower pace of life it once was.” Given that over 40% of people aged 50-64 years have at least one health condition, and nearly a quarter have more than one, staying active through appropriate work or volunteering can really help. Obviously heavy physical work, such as building work, may be inadvisable, but activities that involve social engagement can be very important for mental health.

Of course, no-one is saying that people must stay in work, but staying active, and staying in the community, means that people don’t become isolated; whether it’s through work, volunteering or working with the family. All this is good for long term health, both physical and mental. It is noteworthy that Professor Sally just passed her 67th birthday and is still working, so she arguably practises what she preaches.

It is predicted that by 2020 a third of British workers will be over 50 years of age, and more than three-quarters of those aged 50 years to pension age will still be working (with 12% of people being older than that). It has been shown that early retirement can lead to a busy and active social life, which benefits people who are better off, with larger pensions. On the other hand, people who do not have enough money in retirement can suffer ill-health, which is related to the stress of their financial insecurity. Therefore, there is not a simple answer to the original question, because everyone’s situation will be different. Nevertheless, everyone should try and do their own bit of retirement planning, so that when the big day arrives it is not all a big shock: as well as considering how you might best manage your finances, simple lifestyle choices like keeping their weight under control can be very important, not least in order to avoid debilitating illnesses.

If you want to know more about the report and its recommendations, then it can be downloaded from: