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How to ‘train’ for retirement: seven tips from a retiree

Researchers say we need to ‘retrain’ for retirement in order to be ready for life after work. Here are few other ways in which those in their 50s might look to prepare.

The University of Alicante has just issued a report saying that people over 50 must be prepared for retirement and – since we’re all living longer and staying healthier, too – we must look to retrain, keep learning and look towards what it optimistically describes as a “dynamic third age”.

I know no one between 50 and 70 years old who, having retired, is not full of beans. “I’ve never been so happy!” is the usual cry. “I’ve never been so busy!” In my experience, most people feel released after retirement, like a cork out of a restraining bottle, with bucket lists as long as your arm and a fiendish determination to hang on in there, get down with the yoga classes, travel the world and take up hobby after hobby, from investigating one’s ancestry to joining a choir. Who needs to prepare for it when there are grandchildren to look after, groups to join, degrees to take and book clubs to start?

But here are some tips, should you need any, on how one might prepare, or “train”, for retirement.

Help older people

The great thing about helping older people to do things – ferrying them from hospital to hospital, doing their shopping – is not only does it make you feel tremendously young yourself, but it also gives you a realistic (if often chilling) glimpse of the future that awaits you.

Have a makeover

Now is not the time to “let yourself go”. Since many of your contemporaries will be doing just this – slipping into trackie bottoms and cutting their own hair – you can shine very easily by making the slightest of efforts. Make even more of an effort – dye your hair in stripes, swathe yourself in oriental scarves (and that’s just the men) – and you will stand out as one of the oldest stylies in town. You’ve now got the confidence.

But don’t let that confidence, which, being old, you’ll now have in abundance, push you too far

Machu Picchu might sound like something to “go for” now you’re older, but is the humiliation of being stretchered down after a couple of days really worth the risk? Also, go dancing. But don’t go mad. You may break your leg.

Remember your Freedom pass

This, and a Senior Railcard, can get you around Britain for a matter of only a few pounds, if you get your times right. You could also visit every museum in the country if you felt so inspired.


There are lots of volunteering projects designed specifically for older people. So you need not worry that you will be asked to build a local hospital single-handed or even dig a well; you could teach children maths or reading instead.

Get a routine

Office life at least ensures you get dressed every morning. Make sure you’re out of your nightie or jim-jams by 10 at the latest. Don’t start ordering things on Ocado just yet.

Remember that after 70, it’s a different matter

Be prepared, yes, but for a completely different scenario. You will need to get used to:

  • Spending your days in doctor’s surgeries, waiting for appointments for blood tests, EEGs, x-rays and the falls clinic.

  • People offering you their seats (always accept: don’t let vanity get in the way of letting other people express their kindness).

  • Smiling gratefully when everyone you meet ends the conversation with the words: “Now you take care!”

  • Finding yourself starting every conversation with the words: “You wouldn’t remember, but …”

  • Reading up about euthanasia and making a living will or final directive.

  • Realising that the banisters aren’t quite good enough and considering installing a rail in your home on the wall side.

  • Eating earlier and earlier in the evening.

The Guardian

28th September 2016

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