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Why not quitting work can keep you young

While some can't wait to retire, others stay in their job for as long as possible ... and it might be helping them keep a youthful outlook

By Staff Reporter

Published 23/07/2015

Going strong: Angela Rippon, Gloria Hunniford and Julia Somerville present popular show Rip Off Britain
Going strong: Angela Rippon, Gloria Hunniford and Julia Somerville present popular show Rip Off Britain

Depending on your personal circumstances, retirement can be seen in a number of ways: a necessity perhaps, a luxury, or simply an inevitability.

But not everybody wants to stop working just because they've reached 'retirement age'.

Some of our best-known celebrities, including Northern Ireland TV and radio presenter Gloria Hunniford (75), are showing no signs of slowing down yet. Gloria co-presents hard-hitting consumer show, Rip Off Britain, with veteran reporters, Julia Somerville and Angela Rippon.

The trio regularly take multi-national corporations to task over bad practice or extortionate prices in the well-watched show. Meanwhile, Gloria is a regular reporter for This Morning and The One Show, cleverly covering a host of current issues in her trademark unflappable style.

EastEnders legend June Brown is another case in point. According to a national newspaper, the actress, who plays Dot Branning in the hit BBC soap, has recently been approached by producers to cut her hours.

But despite being 88 years old, the star is having none of it (her character's currently banged up in prison for killing her son, Nick, but is apparently due to be released later this year and will be as central to the storyline as ever).

She's not the only older person still clocking up hours in the showbiz world, of course. There's Bruce Forsyth (87) and - as more glamorous examples - Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, who are both 80. Then there's the Queen, who, while she's scaled back a bit in recent years, at 89, still has a very packed schedule.

Granted, being a royal, or a successful, well-paid actor is a world away from the work most people will be familiar with, and there are plenty of jobs where retirement is far more appealing a prospect than carrying on - but if your health allows, and you enjoy your work, could sticking at it be the answer to staying young?

As Henry Ford, American industrialist and founder of the Ford Motor Company, once said: "Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young."

WHY WORKING KEEPS YOUR BRAIN YOUNG

"Our minds need stimulation," says renowned hypnotherapist and author Georgia Foster (www.georgiafoster.com). "They need to be stretched as much as possible. When you stop utilising parts of your mind, it learns that it's not needed.

"I think self-esteem is key to continuing to work as long as you want. Everybody wants to belong and the older generation in particular need to connect as much as possible. Loneliness can be a horrific burden and working can alleviate that."

Dr Michael Spira, medical director and GP (www.thesmartclinics.co.uk), agrees: "If retirement results in less physical and mental activity, which so often is the case, the brain may start to slow down, and this can lead to memory difficulties and confusion.

"If you have a job that you enjoy, try to hang on to it for as long as you can."

WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR GREY MATTER WHEN YOU RETIRE?

"Retirement means you have to 'reinvent' yourself," says Annie Kaszina, coach and author of Do You Choose Your Dog More Carefully Than Your Husband? "For some people that works really well, for others it does not; they struggle to find a sense of meaning and purpose. They become less valuable in society's eyes. One of the questions we hear all the time is: 'What do you do?' It's a question that presupposes your worth and interests are intimately connected with your working role, not who you are.

"While the capacity for heavy physical work may decline with the years, the capacity for creative thinking does not. June Brown is a good example of this. She is perfectly capable of deciding for herself when she needs to scale back.

"An interesting report from the French government suggests that people who work longer are significantly less likely to suffer from dementia."

TIPS TO KEEP YOUR MIND SHARP

  • "Find things to do that make you feel happy with a sense of belonging," suggests Foster. "Connection to people is very important, as well as finding something that keeps the brain stimulated with lots of positive chemicals, such as endorphins."
  • "Make it your business to learn new skills and take up new hobbies," advises Kaszina.
  • "Regular physical exercise is important," says Dr Spira. "But studies also show that activities that stimulate the brain are equally important; reading books, going to lectures, taking part in quizzes, crosswords, other puzzle games, bridge, chess, writing and charity work."
  • "Set some challenging goals that will help the brain to stretch itself in healthy ways," adds Foster."

Belfast Telegraph

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