Belfast Telegraph

Baby-boomers advised to keep working to 70 to improve health

Baby-boomers should consider staying in work until they are 70 to stay healthier for longer, England's chief medical officer is expected to say.

Staying in paid employment, volunteering or joining community groups can help people be physically and mentally active for longer, Professor Dame Sally Davies will say.

Releasing her latest report on the state of the public's health - which focuses on the health of people aged 50 to 70 - Dame Sally will suggest that the health benefits of staying in work for longer or volunteering "should not be underestimated".

Meanwhile, those entering retirement have a chance to be "more active than ever before", she will add.

The new report will encourage the baby-boomer generation to find ways to stay physically and mentally active to boost their health.

Dame Sally said: "People are living longer than ever and so 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. It is certainly not the start of a slower pace of life it once was.

"Staying in work, volunteering or joining a community group can make sure people stay physically and mentally active for longer.

"The health benefits of this should not be underestimated."

One in eight (12%) of those older than pension age are also still working, figures suggest.

By 2020, it is estimated that a third of British workers will be aged over 50.

Ahead of the report's release, Saga's director of communication Paul Green said: "For many people, the abolition of the Default Retirement Age was a blessing as it allowed them to work for longer and enjoy the social, physical and mental well-being that it gave them.

"In fact, there are now more than 1.24 million over-65s who have taken advantage of the changes and remain in work, a 48% increase since 2011.

"However, for some, the idea of working until they're 70 fills them with dread. Whilst it might have health benefits for some, we also need to be mindful that for some, working longer may not be an option as they simply may not be physically able to continue in their jobs."

"We should be enabling those that can to do so, and ensuring there is help and support available for those that can't."

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: "We welcome this report by Professor Dame Sally Davies in recognising the untapped potential of older people, and the expertise they possess.

"While not everybody can or wants to work on, many of the older people that we speak to tell us about their desire to stay active, and this should be seen as a massive financial boost for those in later life, for businesses and for society as a whole.

"And let's not forget the many older people who contribute through caring and volunteering.

"Of course, it is crucial that we still also have a state pension and a system of benefits that recognises where some individuals cannot work, and the stark variations in life expectancy and health across the country."

Anna Dixon, chief executive of Centre for Ageing Better, said: "The fact that we are living longer presents a tremendous opportunity to enjoy healthy and fulfilling later lives. But it needs us to stay active. Doing more exercise - even walking - can keep you healthier for longer.

"And we also know that being in fulfilling work for longer can help you keep mentally and physically active as well as help you be more financially secure. But at the moment there are over a million people over 50 who want to work but can't - employers need to listen to the message that being age-friendly is good for business and good for society."