What does retirement or being retired mean to you?Does it conjure up a particular image and is it one you wish to embrace for yourself?
We are all living longer. At the beginning of the 21st Century the average life expectancy for men was 55 years and for women 59 years. How scary is that! Many people in their 50's today feel as if they are just approaching middle age, with the average life expectancy for Australian men now at 79 plus years and women 84years.
So, why is this relevant? Well, people used to "retire" ie stop participating in their income producing job and then have a couple of years at home not working, before dying. The average age of retirement is now 59 years which means possibly 20 years plus at home out of the work force.
Do you fancy hanging around at home during that time not doing terribly much apart from a bit of gardening and catching up with the grandkids?
Perhaps the concept of retirement is becoming redundant, as it seems as though many people who are in their 50's and beyond are currently in excellent health, enjoy a comfortable lifestyle and want to continue to participate in some form of useful and enjoyable work or activity.
Many are starting new businesses, taking up new interests, volunteering in philanthropic or charity work or skimming around the world exploring new continents and cultures. The "R" word for them is irrelevant and for some, offensive!
Retirement is no longer just the carpet slippers and grey cardigan before death option but often an opportunity to go and do something new and completely different in our lives. Our intentions and expectations of "retirement" have changed dramatically.
Which means of course that in order to keep doing what we want as we get older then maintaining and looking after our health both mentally and physically becomes increasingly important.
What we could get away with in our twenties and thirties, ie being a bit slack with exercise and diet, becomes a bit more obvious once we are in our forties. We start to notice we don't have quite the stamina or flexibility we used to have. We may start to be aware of the excess weight we are carrying. Our Doctor may have advised us to watch our cholesterol level, or our blood pressure.
In our fifties we may have more evidence of degenerative diseases which start to impinge on our ability to do certain things and reminder us of the need to look after ourselves.
So, if our intention is to keep working, keeping playing, and keep having fun for our four score years and more, then there is no time like right now, to start putting into place our strategies and actions to maintain our healthy brain and healthy body.