One of the sacred cows today is trying to maintain the pension age at 65. To be honest as the numbers of us over that age increase it is not financially possible. There aren’t enough working people to pay for it.

When this age was first introduced 65 was the age of life expectancy so half the population was dead by then which made it feasible. The current argument is that we’ve worked all our lives and paid taxes so we should be able to retire. The problem with this argument is that we haven’t actually worked all our lives. With life expectancy now in the 80’s we have only worked for about two thirds of our lives when we get to the current pension age.

I am the last one to argue that we should be able to stop working and just enjoy ourselves. Human beings aren’t built that way. We all need to have a purpose in our lives, to be somebody, to have a role in the community. It’s what being human means. If someone asks you what you do and you can only say ‘I’m retired’ where does the conversation go from there? No-one really wants to know what you did in the past- that was a different world which has changed since then.

The other reason for keeping an interest alive in our lives (whether paid or voluntary work) is that we need to keep our brains fit and active, as well as our bodies, as we get older. I was interested to hear at a talk on healthy ageing the other day that there is no proof that all these ‘brain exercise’ programs on the market are effective. Alzheimer’s groups used to recommend we do Sudoku puzzles (personally I prefer the more challenging ‘Pixel’ ones) but I think they now realise that even if they are effective it is only in one part of the brain.

I suspect that if we are still at work, or have a hobby that takes up several hours a week, we are much more likely to keep more parts of our brain alive and functioning. It also makes our lives much more interesting. As our former Ambassador for the Ageing said, it gives us something to get out of bed for. It gives us a purpose and a reason for living.