Attitudes to Ageing Well – some Literature

Is there life after retirement – could a career change in the mid 50’s encourage a longer more fulfilled working life, especially for those ‘just filling time’?

The above question reminds me of how a new puppy often encourages an older dog to be more active – a renewing of the spirit.

There is an acknowledged changing attitude towards ageing, even governments are noting this:  https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/lords-select/public-services-committee/report-ready-for-ageing/attitudes-to-ageing/

Age is often said to be a ‘state of mind’. Although, that outlook depends on personality, character traits, physical health and life’s experiences – so it’s difficult to identify each person’s take on the subject.

Changes to the age at which the State pension can be claimed in Britain  (https://www.gov.uk/state-pension-age ) alongside changes in the law regarding private pensions have both contributed to a revisit/rethink of when to retire and now offers a greater flexibility.

Employers are also more open to discussions with employees in regard to reducing hours and/or taking a ‘Step Down’. Big companies have realised the benefits of retaining skills in the workplace. This does not impact negatively on the younger population – by retaining those with experience of the organisational purpose, values and future aims a mentorship and learning environment is offered to those entering the workplace.

Another opportunity for those coming towards the later stages of working life is to ‘re-learn’ and embark on a different career. Often we underestimate the transferability of our skills and learning so taking up a new challenge does not have to be a 3 year degree or apprenticeship but a widening of skills we already have.

Ageism – is this a form of prejudice or discrimination? Does the term present an out-dated picture of society’s older generation? Can the term promote social exclusion and isolation, which impacts on both physical and mental health? This document  https://www.rsph.org.uk/uploads/assets/uploaded/010d3159-0d36-4707-aee54e29047c8e3a.pdf    identifies some actions that can introduce positivity around ageing from a young age as well as in working environments (diversity of age groups)

The following link is to a document of selected articles on attitudes to ageing and older age. http://www.cpa.org.uk/information/readings/attitudes_to_ageing.pdf  Comprised of short abstracts it provides an overview of attitudes and experiences of ageing, with links to further reading.

So when to retire – or even more of a question – when to consider ourselves old? Recently an article in The Times (pg 4 20.11.2019) suggests that old age should now been redefined as 70 not 60 as previously measured (I have been given back my youth 😊)

Psychological wellbeing and physical health are closely linked and this is especially noted in the older age groups.

Wellbeing can be described as ‘satisfied with life, sense of fulfilment, acceptable level of achievement, mobility, independence.’ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5992429/ is a link to an academic work describing the benefits of promoting well-being through physical activity (a very simple explanation, so read article if you want to know more)

There is an increasing amount of published literature relating to ‘Ageing’ which address both the practicalities and the theoretical. Some present it as a challenge to be overcome – full of useful advice on maintaining cognitive and physical health. Others, more cheerfully, present a different view – a redefining of the ageing concept, an alternative approach, a widening of opportunities.

As I noted earlier, ageing is a concept of the mind and each individual handles it differently and none are incorrect. If it is your desire to retire to ‘slippers, gardening and afternoon TV’ then enjoy. Others look on retirement and ageing as an opportunity to broaden/expand experiences building on the ‘life/skills blocks’ already achieved.

You chose whichever model of ageing is right for you and reading available literature can be both informative and guiding.  In his book ‘The Wisdom Years’ Dr. Zui Lanir presents his developing theory that there can be purpose for the increased life expectancy our generation are enjoying, that the period between adulthood and old age is a period of wisdom. This period can be one of discovery and personal empowerment. That is of course a very simple explanation of an interesting concept so please read the book if you wish to gain further insights on how to enhance fulfilment in later years.

There are many articles available on the internet offering personal reflections of retirement. Below are a few that may be of interest, some scholarly but all are easy to read and not overlong.

http://web.mit.edu/gtmarx/www/hitherthither.html

http://web.mit.edu/gtmarx/www/hitherthither.html

https://academic.oup.com/asj/article/35/2/225/180219

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/10-lessons-from-retirement-2019-01-25

Hopefully some of the above is useful to you as you plan the next stage of your life. A period that should add to your portfolio of life rather than diminish it.

 

Photo acknowledgements:

Photo by Nayani Teixeira on Unsplash – Featured Image

Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash – End Photo

Photo by Chetan Menaria on Unsplash – Photo 1

Photo by Hope House Press – Leather Diary Studio on Unsplash – Photo 2

 

Keeping Those Legs Moving

One concern I had about retirement was in regard to my physical fitness. A challenging stressful job encouraged me to attend the gym regularly and to walk whenever possible. I wondered if I lacked the discipline to maintain any ‘’keep fit’ regime. To encourage myself I undertook the ‘Couch to 5K’ challenge ( https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/couch-to-5k-week-by-week/) and committed myself to writing regular updates.(http://perpetually49.com/couch-2-5km/ – link to first of Blogs relating my experience)

I am not a runner by nature and I still dislike the activity, but I did complete the challenge. I then went on to gradually increase my distance until one day I ran 10Km in 1 hour and 15 minutes! And that was it – or so I thought. Having achieved such a level of fitness I am determined to maintain it for as long as possible, although not as a runner. So, what else is available?

I must acknowledge that some people enjoying running – as noted by the following link https://maturingwell.co.uk/index.php/2019/10/26/never-regret-going-for-a-run/ – uploaded by a Blogger who does enjoy a run.

I regularly attend a local gym. Although I use the equipment – Cross Trainer, Static Bike and Treadmill – I have not yet attended any of the group activities (available at no extra cost). I really must investigate these and try something.  As I already attend a Iyengar Yoga group elsewhere I thought I would look for something with a faster movement – Zumba Gold? I am not a natural dancer so this will be interesting ?

The importance of maintaining fitness is well documented not only for your physical state but also, very much so, for your mental health.

There are an increasing number of ‘Retiree’ Blogs and keeping fit and active is a common topic. I have inserted links throughout to some of those I found such as https://exerciseright.com.au/retired/ a general website with an overview of fitness – there are some  downloadable resources which may be of interest.

Of course, keeping active is not only about running a marathon or going to a Kick-Boxing class – it is equally important to both enjoy what you are doing and to challenge yourself. (it is often said you should scare yourself at least once a day!)

If golf, hiking and/or sailing make you happy then doing these activities will add to both your physical and mental well-being just the same as swimming 3 miles before breakfast.

We talk about physical fitness yet not so much about mental fitness – except to worry about Dementia. A topic so much in the newspapers now, accompanied by reports of the lack of available treatments and the difficulties of early diagnosis. Enough to invoke the stress and anxiety often stated as a contributory factor! Although both my parents lived until their late 80s their latter years were blighted by the diagnosis of Dementia. So, I have first-hand experience of how the disease impacts on quality of life and the extended family.

Keeping mentally active by learning new skills, maintaining social interactions and physical fitness – alongside eating and sleeping well – are all factors often cited as beneficial to retaining mental agility.

https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/staying-mentally-active – general overview of retaining mental alertness

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-to-in-later-life – includes links to free downloads with information about how to stay mentally fit in your later years.

Short term memory issues such as ‘forgetfulness’ are common in all of us – who hasn’t been half way up the stairs and forgotten why you are going, or put the milk in the pantry and bread in the fridge?? When young we put this down to lack of concentration yet for the majority of us ‘oldies’ we worry that Dementia is setting in. Well, it might be but in reality, it is more likely to be as before – lack of concentration.

Social isolation is often noted to be a contributing factor to poor mental health so it is important to talk – join in family/friends events, accept invitations to gatherings, join a regular group activity local to where you live.  Joining a group/club that meet regularly may sound frightening if you don’t like meeting strangers so remember – everyone in the group was new once and would also have been anxious at their first attendance. ‘Strangers are only people you haven’t met yet’. If going alone is an issue then perhaps contacting the group leader prior to a meeting would help. An introductory conversation giving you information about the group may even inform you that you do know some-one who attends.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/body/mind-healing-socially-active-retirement-good-health/ – general advice on staying social and avoiding boredom (it’s detrimental to your health)

http://www.talkhealthpartnership.com/blog/2019/11/5-effective-ways-to-prevent-loneliness-this-winter/ – the focus here is avoiding loneliness and isolation (which can lead to depression and lack of motivation) this winter

Working naturally provides opportunities to interact with others both at work and at work-related social events. This avenue of communication is often closed once retirement occurs so by acknowledging this when planning your retirement loneliness/isolation can be avoided – by identifying interest groups, starting a new hobby etc before retirement starts.

If you already feel the need for assistance with loneliness contact Silverline www.thesilverline.org.uk – a telephone friend will work with you to re-ignite your social confidence. Telephone number is 0800 470 80 80.

A very simple way of maintaining self confidence in social surroundings is to just leave the house. Yes, just put on your coat and go for a walk. You will be surprised how many others are also out and about, doing the garden, walking the dog etc. If you acknowledge their presence, then 99% will respond. Use the bus instead of the car where possible, as well as reducing your carbon footprint, you will be surprised how easy conversations start whilst at the bus stop.

In general – maintaining social interactions promotes both mental and physical health – so, put on your coat and keep those legs moving.

Further general information in links below:

https://arborliving.co.uk/7-of-the-best-ways-to-keep-fit-in-retirement/ – another easy to read site with general advice. Does highlight the need to be honest with yourself, sticking to your plan or changing it – disinterest encourages apathy as we all know.

http://toofattorun.co.uk/blogs/ – Okay, so this Blog is not necessarily about Retirement and fitness but is worth a read if you fancy moving the legs faster. Am guessing that you do not even have to be overweight – just keen to join in, yet aware you may be out-of-practice or needing a bit of encouragement.

https://www.wearejust.co.uk/health-and-lifestyle/physical-wellbeing/active-pastimes/ site with general information presented in an encouraging motivating manner, includes links to other sites for further in-depth information.

http://perpetually49.com/staying-active/ – original article written in 2018 with links to further information.

Photo Acknowledgements:

Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash – Featured Image

Photo by Danielle Cerullo on Unsplash – Zumba

Photo by David Goldsbury on Unsplash – Golf

Photo by Eddy Klaus on Unsplash – Man Painting

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash – Family Group

Photo by chelsea ferenando on Unsplash – women in coat

Photo by Ben Rosett on Unsplash – End Photo

 

Enhancing Income and Utilising your Skills

Either due to a low pension provision vs outgoings or a need for ‘getting out of the house’ you may be considering re-employment/part time work.

The easiest way, at least initially, of doing this is to review your current job and discuss your options with your employer. A role with reduced responsibility, part time or job share of current post may be possible. Employers are often open to these discussions as they know that this retains expertise and organisational history within the company, alongside possible opportunities to utilise your skills in a mentorship role.

So, if you know that you will need something else to do once you formally retire and wish to stay in your current work environment – start that conversation.

Other options are available, and more varied than I had realised. The ‘clean break’ route is to look/review just what it is that you want to do. List your skills and how transferable they can be – you will be surprised. Companies such as B&Q employ retired tradesmen to work on the shop floors – as a customer I find it very useful to speak to someone who really does know about the product and it has saved me from DIY disasters in the past. I have also received sound advice on how to ‘do what I plan to do’ from a retired tailor in a fabric shop.

Would you be happy to re-train – not a 3-year degree course but something that only requires a short ‘in-service’ style undertaking? 

Government organisations such as Works and Pensions and the Office of the Public Guardian regularly look for people with life experiences to work for them in liaison roles. The salary is not high although expenses are covered, and you have control over your caseloads and hours worked. https://publicappointments.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/about-appointments/

https://publicappointments.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/appointment/court-of-protection-general-visitor/

The two links above are examples of government sites offering opportunities, for specific information you could ‘click’ to the Contact page.

Non-executive roles offer exciting opportunities for you to contribute to organisational development using your expertise and knowledge. There is often a small retainer and expenses in exchange for 2 – 3 days a month.

https://www.iod.com/services/information-and-advice/resources-and-factsheets/details/What-is-the-role-of-the-NonExecutive-Director

The above link has information relating to the role of Non-Executive Directors which may answer some of your queries if this is of interest to you.

If fortunate enough to receive a ‘Lump Sum’ when retiring you may consider investing some (or all) of this in property which you then rent to Tenants is another possibility for supplementing your income and offering an activity. Although becoming a property developer may not be your aim, buying property to let as Long Term residential or short-term holiday lets could be profitable.

Setting up a small business is also another route by which you retain control over the level of activity – if, for example, you worked in the trades such as Joinery or Plumbing you could offer those skills locally for the ‘small domestic’ jobs that the career tradesman often turns down as, understandably, it is more useful for them to do the big jobs such as replacing a bathroom suite than to repair a dripping tap. Locally, we have access to a retired Joiner who works with a Carpet and Flooring firm re-fitting room doors following the laying of new carpets etc. This keeps him active and engaging with people whilst supplementing his income – and the customer does not have to arrange the task then wait for a busy Joiner to arrive.

Consultancy is another opportunity to share your skills – Reviewing a Strategic plan, facilitating a Team Day Out, contributing to a company turnaround and re-structure are just a few activities that such roles can be used for and many organisations prefer to obtain the unbiased objective view for such tasks.

If travelling is an interest, then there are ways that this could also generate an income or reduce your costs whilst you experience new environments. It is most likely that you will need to undertake an instructional course – the following link offers an insight and advice into the training required to be a Tour Guide  https://www.itg.org.uk/

Being a Tour Guide is a varied role and can be local, national, international and/or topic specific. So, if Ghost tours are your thing then perhaps leading small groups of like-minded people through the dark alleys of York and/or Edinburgh could be something you aim for. Perhaps food is both your interest and area of expertise so perhaps look to be a Food Tour Guide (not sure of correct title for that job role). I recently experienced a guided tour of Brixton and Borough Markets in London – learning about the markets from both an historical and food perspective, on our tour we also had a ‘Learner’ guide who was planning to work part time once qualified.

Volunteering in the national parks (National and/or International)– I don’t mean managing the forests or rounding up the badgers, although perhaps it is a possibility. Rather, assisting in the Gift Shop, general guide or as an interpreter may be of interest. These roles rarely offer a salary and are usually seasonal although some offer low cost housing in exchange for your input.

Teaching English as a second language, especially if you already hold the TESOL qualification, is another opportunity to generate income either in Britain or abroad.

House-sitting is an alternative way to reduce the cost of travel whilst seeing new areas either in Britain or abroad. The following link is to an interesting article written by an experience house-sitter  https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/house-sitting/ – although USA based it does contain some useful advice that applies worldwide The Following link is a UK based site that may also be useful if house sitting appeals to you (not having investigated this previously I am thinking it may be something I look into further) .  https://www.housesittersuk.co.uk/

Turning your hobbies – quilting, knitting, wooden toys, baking – into income is now possible using such websites as Etsy, Pinterest, Ebay (sites easily accessed via Search Engines) which enable you to sell your products. Or, you could approach local community colleges to investigate vocational teaching opportunities.

The opportunities and pathways are so varied I could not possibly list them all although have some website examples below. If this sounds as if it could be of interest, then follow through with that thought. Then the next 3 web addresses are links to USA sites so some of the legal information is not correct for the UK although they are interesting sites with useful insights so worth a read. The final web link is to a site offering guidance relating to managing your finances and budgeting in ways that ensure you do not need to re-join the workforce at all.

https://www.saga.co.uk/magazine/money/work/careers/working-after-retirement  sound general information with case studies and scenarios.

https://www.gov.uk/working-retirement-pension-age looking at any legalities re state pension and working.

https://www.newretirement.com/retirement/jobs-for-seniors-best-jobs-after-retirement/ An American site but still very useful hints and tips about returning to work and identifying what is best for you.

https://www.freshminds.co.uk/whats-fresh/post/2017/07/21/what-is-a-non-executive-director-and-how-do-you-get-there Information relating to non-executive roles.

https://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2014/jan/24/become-home-freelance-consultant how to set up a Consultancy with some useful insights from the experience of others.

USA Based sites:

https://encore.org/

https://www.retiredbrains.com/index.html

https://www.workforce50.com/

Site for those who would first like to review financial planning:

https://www.reviews.com/blog/how-to-save-during-retirement-without-going-back-to-work/

Photo accreditation:

Featured Image Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Student – Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Tools –  Photo by Dominik Scythe on Unsplash

Travellers – Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

Forest –  Photo by Tommy Lisbin on Unsplash

House – Photo by Matthew Harwood on Unsplash

End Photo – Photo by Jamie Templeton on Unsplash

 

Staying Active 

Being active differs from being sociable, although obviously the two overlap.

When my children were young I spent plenty of time at Ballet, Horse Riding, Ice Skating, Football and Rugby. I never actually took part in any of these activities, I merely drove the car. I felt I was always on the move and interacting although, in reality, I was being a social parent not an athlete!

When time permitted I tried to maintain a general state of fitness by going to the gym, walking and swimming. Although, I have recently become more aware that this activity was more about my mental health than physical ability. I recently challenged myself to complete the ‘Couch 2 5Km’ training programme and downloaded the App. (https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/get-running-with-couch-to-5k/)

As anyone who has read my posts relating to the experience will know – I did not find it easy (http://perpetually49.com/couch-2-5km/). Alongside learning that I was not as fit as I thought I was, I also learnt it is easier to improve general fitness when younger. I am sure the 30-year-old me would have found it more enjoyable and less strenuous a task.

That is not to say you shouldn’t try – having completed the 9 weeks programme I do feel the benefit. I also know I will keep up the activity – today should have been a ‘running day’ but it is raining. Earlier this year I would have been relieved, today I ran up and downstairs for 10 minutes instead.

There are many web sites offering health and activity tips – I have listed some below that I felt had some useful information. Guess there is nothing surprising in any of them although good to be reminded of some of the general levels of fitness we should aim for to improve the chances of a mobile and healthy old age.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/beauty/body/fit-should-age-checklist-might-surprise/ – has a good guide as to what you should be able to do, as a starter.

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/exercise-and-fitness-as-you-age.htm – this is an easy read and very encouraging in that it answers many questions you may already be thinking. The idea to be fit is not about training for a marathon but to keep mobile both physically and mentally.

https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/health-wellbeing/fitness/ – this also has a link to activities in your local area (in UK) which leads me on to how fitness can be improved and/or maintained.

There are many ways to improve and maintain fitness and many cost little or nothing. The simplest is to walk – briskly 3 times a walk for approx. 30 minutes each time (walking briskly, from what I understand, is where you feel slightly breathless but can still talk) Challenging yourself to walk a longer distance over the 30 minutes will demonstrate that you are achieving an increase in your ability. 

I have a small pedometer in my pocket that tracks both steps and Kms as well as an App on my phone that shows distance and the route. A Fitbit sounds just a little too much technology for me and the two ‘gadgets’ I have mentioned are enough for me to track my activity.

Local gyms, often, offer ‘off peak’ membership fees and some local schools and colleges open their facilities to the public in the evenings and weekends for a small fee – this is worth checking out as many will be within walking distance. Village/town halls are rented by independent fitness instructors, yoga teachers etc and again – these are inexpensive and also provide an opportunity to socialise within the community.

Increasingly opportunities present themselves that perhaps when working you could not participate in – or know of. Walking Football is new to me although looks a fun way to both exercise and meet new people. (https://thewfa.co.uk/ also type ‘walkingfootball’ into YouTube for some examples)

And, it does not have to be ‘sweaty’ – a regular round of golf provides walking, stretching, load carrying and fresh air. I regularly attended a Tai Chi class, gentle movement but still enhanced my fitness and agility. I regularly ache after a yoga session.

If you are a member of a gym it is also worth checking out the activity programmes that many provide, these are commonly within the monthly fee so will not cost you any extra. The leisure club I attend surprised me with its list. I had not paid attention when working and just used the gym – now I am investigating the possibilities.

Also, good to remember that keeping physically fit is shown to also benefit mental fitness and slow cognitive decline. Research papers (aagh! I know, but are worth the read) do explain the reasons that exercise assists in maintaining brain health as well as physical health. The web links I have inserted below are relatively short and are ‘readable’. 

Cognitive decline and Dementia are referred to in newspapers practically daily. Whilst there is no cure, at present, there is evidence that progression of the disease may be slowed by exercise and possibly may delay the onset.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/the-athletes-way/201404/physical-activity-improves-cognitive-function

Aside from cognitive and memory benefits exercise is also shown to improve sleep patterns, moods and stress levels. It is exciting that it is the aerobic/walking kind rather than the resistance and muscle toning efforts that show the best outcomes. I think this makes it easier and cheaper to undertake, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110 It seems that you just need the heart to be pumping fast.

Besides going to an aerobics class (Step etc) also consider swimming, squash, tennis and – Dancing, not that I can dance but it sounds more exciting than running up and down stairs for 10 minutes. Even housework and gardening count. Just do something that creates a light sweat. http://brainblogger.com/2015/02/04/can-physical-exercise-improve-cognitive-abilities/

The link to Healthy Brains leads to a PDF article that is an easy read with many basic facts and tips. https://healthybrains.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/08000536/BrainHealthGuide.pdf

Very recently The Lancet has published articles relating to exercise and its benefits to both physical and mental health. https://www.thelancet.com/ Follow the link and search for articles of interest, I would suggest you prepare yourself with a coffee and a biscuit before pressing the ‘enter’ button.

Know yourself and your limitations and build your activity accordingly – just keep moving, its more beneficial than you think. 

Photo Acknowledgements:

Photo by Sylwia Bartyzel on Unsplash Featured Image

Photo by Lauren Kay on Unsplash Mom’s Taxi

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash Walking in Snow

Photo by Court Prather on Unsplash Golf

Photo by Stefano Pollio on Unsplash – Misted Hands

Photo by kevin laminto on Unsplash – End Photo

 

Couch 2 5Km The Final Update:

Having at last found a way that I could both achieve the challenge of ‘Couch 2 5Km’ and do so in a manner that would encourage me to maintain the level of exercise, I enjoyed the final week.

 First run of the week was along a ‘traffic-free’ country road and was as usual a mixture of trotting/running/brisk walks. I covered 6.4 Km in 53.3 minutes. Hardly giving Paula Radcliffe any exercise but really delighted me.

Then for Run 2 I was back in the gym – this time solely on the Static Bike and only for 35 minutes.

This included both warm up and cool down periods, I set the bike to the ‘Hills’ mode so there was effort required and challenged myself to have cycled 5 Km before Roger Federer took the first set. He was playing Kevin Anderson in the Wimbledon quarter finals and I know that he can complete a set in 16 minutes, so the race was on. And I won (thanks to Mr Anderson being a tough opponent, if truth be told). I covered 5 Km in 24.9 minutes – the first set lasted 26 minutes.  Phew!

In total I did 6.95Km in 35 minutes.

Whilst cycling I had a chance to think how I have increased my stamina and general fitness in the last 11 weeks. I now recognise that my ‘gym sessions’ previously were more to promote my mental health, that I ran on the treadmill to de-stress rather than to gain fitness. Not that there was anything wrong with that – just I had thought I was doing both until now.

To maintain what I have gained physically I will need to keep up the level of exertion and surprisingly I know I will – I think I have more energy and feel less tired. I also know that as people age it is harder to regain lost muscle strength than when young and after all this hard work I am not going backwards. (Plus, without any effort I have lost 1.5Kg of weight)

Now to the final effort:

The hot weather meant that the final spurt would have to be completed indoors, even gentle trotting is exhausting in the humidity we were experiencing in July of 2018.

 

I started on the Treadmill – brisk walk and run for 1.5Km, then moved to a Static Bike and cycled 4Km in the next 25 minutes then slowly pedalled for the remaining 5 minutes – so in the 40 minutes I moved my legs over 6Km (I forgot to re-set the machine for the final 5 minutes so no info!)

 

 

 

Although I did not run non-stop for 5Km, and I never will, I think that I have achieved the essence of the challenge. I now intend to increase the distance I cover over 60 minutes of fast walking time – I wonder if 5 miles (8Km) is doable?

Photo Acknowledgements:

Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash – End Photo

Photo by Vernon Raineil Cenzon on Unsplash – Featured Image

Photo by Shep McAllister on Unsplash – Roger Federer

Photo by Nathalie Désirée Mottet on Unsplash – Runner

 Retirement Blogs

As I began planning my retirement I started with Google – that mine of information and distractions! Initially I was searching for basic, but relevant, information in relation to financial planning, pensions etc. although often distracted by sites offering insights into retirement itself.

Some were basic and had not been updated for some time, others contained practical and helpful direction for a new way of living.

I have a list below of links to those I found interesting and thought I would share. Some were of practical use, others offered advice relating to activities and many were just interesting to read.  https://www.blog.feedspot.com/retirement_blogs/ This is a general website listing many retirement sites – it is updated weekly and is USA focused. That said the Blog Sites it lists are useful to read as they offer advice that can work this side of the Atlantic.

https://www.blog.feedspot.com/uk_retirement_blogs/ is the UK version and lists the top 20 retirement sites. Many are in relation to financing your retirement (and we do need to retire fully informed so don’t ignore these) although there are others that offer inspiration through sharing their ‘bucket lists’ or maintaining a Blog in the style of a diary. These remind me of the 19th Century authors submitting their novels on a weekly basis to The Times or Punch (think Dickens or Brontes) The following link is an example of a site offering tips on retirement alongside diarised events of ‘life as a retiree’.  http://www.aretirementblog.blogspot.com/

https://www.crackingretirement.com/ is another example of a diary style site that demonstrates the possibilities offered by retirement, alongside insights into finance.

 

 

A day could easily be lost searching for and reading through such sites, although this is not a negative activity. As well as practical information many of the sites offer encouragement and insights to inspire you in the next phase of your life.

 

Simply writing ‘UK Retirement Blogs’ into your preferred search engine delivers a host of sites for you to trawl through if looking for information – or just to sit in the sunshine and read as if they were a journal.

Photo Acknowledgements:

Cartoon Professor – Dreamstime.com

Couch 2 5Km Update 4:

Every day ‘something fast’ was the plan and, so far I am on target. The heat has made it difficult – even in the gym it is stifling. Aware of the rarity of the hot conditions so trying not to moan. Yesterday I covered 4.8Km (3 Miles) in 43 minutes. Due to heat I had intended to just walk briskly – the surprise was – I kept breaking into a run!

Wimbledon and sunny weather are both distractions but still on track to do week 9 run 3 shortly.

Reflecting on how I have tackled this challenge so far, I identified that my lack of enthusiasm for running must have contributed to the slowness in achieving the goal. Despite being a regular attender at a gym and a keen walker I never ran anywhere so in reality I was starting from a baseline of Zero.

Although I can now run 2Km in under 15 minutes and regularly walk 3 miles in 42 minutes I do not feel any further progress. I decided to review how I was trying to achieve the goal. Perhaps it was more about keeping the legs moving, improving speed and distance, raising pulse rates and increasing stamina rather than focusing on running 5Km in 30 minutes.

I went to the gym and looked at the machines. Now, I can walk easily so thought the treadmill would be good to use for the ‘warm up walk’, the Cross-trainer would exercise arms and legs and as I enjoy cycling the Static Bike would introduce some pleasure. All these machines have screens displaying scenic routes and I would have earphones for music.

 

I decided to use all 3 and in 40 minutes I travelled 7.5Km – which included both the warm up and cool down walks.

 

 

I, at last, felt a real sense that I can achieve the goal.

Photo Acknowledgements:

Photo by morgan sarkissian on Unsplash – Featured Image

Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash – Gym sign

Photo by Martin Barák on Unsplash – Bikes

Photo by ivan Torres on Unsplash – End photo

Couch 2 5Km Update 3:

Oh Lordy, Week 8 and it is really serious now. Continuous running for 28 minutes! I’m an old lady, what was I thinking??

Encouraged by the third run of week 7, as 3.8Km is close to 5.00Km, I felt I ran further and faster. Indeed, doing 4.4Km on the first run of the week. Although still a mixture of trotting and very fast walking rather than any Paula Radcliffe style of running. I am protecting my knees, nursing my back and have a blister on my right little toe – I should be at home watching daytime TV.

Week 9 – now expected to run for 30 minutes continuously – 30 MINUTES!  Only 2 more minutes per session than week 8 I know BUT psychologically it is enormous.

I feel that I have moaned and groaned my way through this whole challenge and I don’t care. Despite the heat, the knees, the blister, the hay fever etc etc I am still here – and that is what counts.

 

My first run of week 9 was in our local park and very pleasant, well, if I hadn’t been running it would have been. Still a mixture of jogging and very fast walking but I did cover 4.828Kms – so frustrating. Although also good, if I had achieved the 5Km I would have packed up and gone home – only joking.

The second run was back in doors at the gym and I was feeling confident after Run 1. So exciting as I actually ran non-stop for 2 Km! As time passed I thought to myself Michael J. should surely have been saying ‘You have run for 10 minutes, doing really well’ – or similar, looked down at the App and it was on pause! 

Luckily, I had set the machine to move for 40 minutes so I had some idea of progress but in the end only ran 4.4 Km. Oh, never mind. Always tomorrow (my Scarlet O’Hara moment)

 

Run 3 is the point at which the 5 Km should be achieved – I decided that I really should start taking this seriously (sounds of an awakening competitive gene, methinks) So, I have chosen to delay the 3rd run and instead train for the final attempt. Hayfever and a heatwave helped my decision. So now everyday for a week I will do something fast. I can now run 2Km non-stop in less than 15 minutes. Today I have just ran/walked without pause or slowing for 40 minutes and covered 5.295Km. not really achieving the objective (as that includes the ‘warm up’ walk) but does feel good.

Looking back on first C25K post – I said that June 25th was the date of the final run. Today is 26th ….. so encouraged.

Photo Acknowledgements:

Photo by Zac Ong on Unsplash Featured Image

Photo by Agê Barros on Unsplash Timer

Photo by Bradley Wentzel on Unsplash End

 

Recognising and Avoiding Loneliness

Loneliness is a complex and unpleasant emotional response to isolation, the sense of a lack of connection and/or communication with others. It can occur both when physically alone and when with others. It can have an impact on both mental and physical health.

Most of us would describe it as ‘having no one to talk to’ or ‘no-one understands or listens to me’

It is important to understand how it occurs, how to avoid it and how to manage it if it is a position you recognise in yourself.

It does appear easy, once retired, to reduce social contact and to become socially isolated.  It can occur without you even realising – oh, the excitement of not having to go out to work every day.

Yet, it is important to ‘stay in touch’. This could be with established friends, new social activity or chatting ‘over the wall’ with the neighbours. See also a recent post ‘Staying Social’ on following link.   http://www.perpetually49.com/planning-for-retirement-stage-3/

Like many of us I was only on brief nodding terms with neighbours whilst working but now have time to chat – beneficial to both of us as it also promotes the neighbour’s interactions and sharing of news and views.

Studies show that brief interventions, even with strangers in a bus queue, improved the sense of well-being. That making a connection is good for us and reduces a sense of isolation.

Other studies have demonstrated that face-to-face communication increases the production of endorphins- the chemical in the brain that boosts well-being and reduces pain. So, leave the computer and go outside. Talk to a neighbour, ‘What about?’ you may ask. It’s Britain – talk about the weather.

Follow the link https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/basics/loneliness for more information and articles.

There is nothing wrong with being on your own and many of us, me included, enjoy our own company. Feeling lonely is something different entirely. It is that sense of not connecting – either you are missing social interaction or feel uncared for and/or disconnected from the people who surround you.

Avoiding social isolation may be easier than you think – it often needs some courage (but then, you have greater inner strength than you realise)

Alongside leaving the house and talking to neighbours there are other steps you can take.

What are your interests? List them and then look locally for groups, evening classes etc. that would ‘fit’. These need not be costly.

Have you skills and experiences that could be shared and utilised by others? You could volunteer at a group/charity nearby. Follow the link below for information ovolunteering.

https://www.gov.uk/government/get-involved/take-part/volunteer

Appreciate that ‘first time’ nerves can hold you back although, as is often said ‘all journeys start with the first step’.

Attending any group does not commit you for life. If it is not ‘your thing’ then look for something else, although do give everything a fair chance. There is no rush, enjoy all the interactions you make.

Remember that loneliness can also impact on your physical health and perspectives on situations. An article from The Independent identifies some of the impacts lack of social interactions can have.

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/loneliness-lethal-condition-therapy-psychology-cox-commission-ons-health-a8311781.html

Studies show that people with a sense of loneliness do not cope as well with illness as people with healthy social interactions. Those with a sense of loneliness are shown to exaggerate severity of illnesses and often require changes of treatment as ‘nothing works’. There is also evidence that indicates the socially isolated consult their family doctor for minor illnesses more than those with social support groups and – loneliness can lead to depression.

The links below has some useful information and articles on ‘self-help’

https://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org/the-facts-on-loneliness/

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/loneliness/#.WyOjokgvxPY  

An organisation started by Dame Esther Rantzen, The Silver Line, is funded by donations and manned by volunteers to offer support and company for those recognising their loneliness. Feel Lonely – follow the link, give them a call. Would like to offer support – follow the link, give them a call. https://www.thesilverline.org.uk/

Loneliness is a disease of our time and there is even a Minister for Loneliness (at time of writing this is Tina Couch) yet there are some simple steps that you can take to avoid this and steer yourself towards maintaining health and well-being.

As stated throughout the post – engage in simple small talk with those nearby – neighbours, shop assistants, dog walkers etc.

Enjoy your own company, plan your day so it has focus. Treat yourself to ‘outings’ such as the theatre, cinema or Coach trips.

Go somewhere on a regular basis, by doing this you become ‘familiar’ to others and more likely to feel comfortable engaging in conversation.

Make a connection with others yourself – join a local club where you have an interest (a shared interest is a conversation already started)

Understand why you feel lonely. Making connections may not remove this sense of loneliness unless you understand why it’s there. Is it new? Is it embodied over time? Once you acknowledge the reason you can work towards a solution.

Acknowledge you may need help to do this. Embrace who you are.

Photo Acknowledgements:

Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash – talking with neighbours Photo 1

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash – Featured Image

Photo by Todd Quackenbush on Unsplash – volunteer Photo 2

Photo by pina messina on Unsplash – Photo 3 Visit Dr

Photo by David Clarke on Unsplash – Photo 4 Silver

Photo by Lydia Torrey on Unsplash End Photo

Be Wise about your Pension

Gosh, this is tricky subject and there is soooo much information out there it is easy to become confused and SCAMMED (so be careful who you share your information with)

Years back it was much simpler – occupational and/or private schemes seemed to stick to what you agreed with from the start – and you received your state pension at 60/65 (gender and date of birth dependant), although don’t start me on changes to the age at which you receive your state pension and how many years in advance you were informed of the change. Women especially have been affected by this and it has made a difference to many plans and incomes.

I do agree, that as we are generally living longer and healthier, it makes sense to work longer. It is just the process seemed to come around very quickly – and the dates changed regularly making planning difficult. I, myself, was informed of 3 dates and each was further in the distance. Anyhow I digress.

Back to pensions. As you will be aware the changes to how you access your private pension schemes has changed. These changes may or may not impact on how you access your occupational pension – for many this is still only accessible as a regular ‘income’ monthly/weekly as is the State Pension.

The need for a decision is in relation to many private pension schemes as you can access this in many ways – from all at once to retaining a monthly sum as income. Oh, what to do? And how to do it in the most tax efficient way.

I am not a pensions advisor nor a financial expert so can only share my experience and what sources of information I discovered.

I have a small private pension into which I have contributed a small monthly amount over the decades. Commenced when the children were young, and I was aware that working part-time would impact on my occupational pension. The monthly ‘income’ amount quoted is very small and thanks to the changes I can consider accessing it in a variety of ways that suit my circumstances.

So first, to understand the options.

As always, my first stop was Google, as you would image there are many links to ‘pensions advice and retirement’. From large nationally recognised insurance companies to firms I had never heard of but being ever cautious I went initially to the government site which explains the State Pension, is easy to read and appears to be updated regularly.  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/your-new-state-pension-explained/your-state-pension-explained

For information relating to your occupational pension it is best to discuss this with your employing organisational. Although the following sites also gives some clear guidance.

https://www.pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk/

https://www.gov.uk/workplace-pensions

https://www.workplacepensions.gov.uk/employee/

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/pensions/types-of-pension/workplace-pensions/

So back to private pensions. You may have an independent financial advisor and if so that is obviously the person to contact. I am guessing that there is already a relationship of trust there and, even if you also consult other avenues, it is a good place to start. If not, then the company who hold your pension savings is a must. The independent companies selling and supporting private pension schemes have had to change how they handle business in relation to the change in laws so should have both up-to-date guidance and impartial advice.

I contacted my Pension company once I was approaching my  retirement date to discuss my options, complete required forms etc.

The first thing I was instructed to do was make an appointment with Pension Wise – a free government advice service  www.pensionwise.gov.uk

The meeting can be face-to-face or using the telephone. As I prefer communicating face to face with people I have never met that is what I selected and found it very worthwhile. How to make contact and arrange appointments are on their website (link above).

Alongside discussing my specific options the Adviser also worked through all other options so I felt that if I had had any doubts previously I would have left more informed and with guidance as to where to go next. By the time I arrived home an email with a link to a summary of the meeting and links for further advice was already in my Inbox.

Of specific note was to check policies for any special features and fees that the pension plan may have in the small print – these can sometimes limit the options available.

The following links are ones highlighted to me and may be of assistance when considering options:

https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/categories/getting-advice-about-retirement  – many pages on various topics around retirement and how to source financial advice

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/introducing-a-pensions-advice-allowance/introducing-a-pensions-advice-allowance-consultation – details about the ‘pensions advice allowance’, which I had never heard of. Allows a sum to be taken from tax-free sum to use for funding cost of financial adviser.

https://www.fca.org.uk/  – amongst other advice this site has a list of known SCAMs

www.unbiased.co.uk – how to locate a local finance adviser in your area

A brief overview of what advice pathways are available to use when considering your options – hope it helped.

 

 

 

Photo Acknowledgements:

Photo by Steven Lewis on Unsplash Featured Image