There was a time when reaching the age of retirement meant stopping work, drawing your pension and sitting back to see out the rest of your days quietly. Not so any longer. Today most people want a lot more from their life as a pensioner, leading as active a life as possible, even if they are not in full health.
Many people are choosing simply not to retire. According to figures published by the Office of National Statistics in 2013, over one million, or 10 per cent of people over the age of sixty five are still in work in the UK. In the US the figure is even higher, with approximately one third of over sixty five year olds being in some form of employment.
Older people remain in the workplace for a variety of reasons. Some carry on working because they love the work they do. This reason is given most often among people whose work has a strong creative element. There are many famous people still working past the usual retirement age, often in the entertainment industry: Dame Judi Dench, Sir David Attenborough, Sir Paul McCartney, Robert Redford, Susan Sarandon, Steven Spielberg and of course the nation's favourite, Sir Bruce Forsyth, to name but a few. We should also not forget the Queen, who continues to serve the country at the age of eighty eight.
Others continue to work for financial reasons, perhaps to allow themselves to have a few luxuries, or in some cases simply to make ends meet. This could become more prevalent in future if poorly managed pension schemes fail to provide sufficient income. Another reason for working beyond retirement age is for the social aspect. Some people are concerned about feeling isolated if they leave work.
Marriage statistics point to a far greater interest in new relationships in later years than was the case in the past. Increasing rates of divorce mean that more people are free to look for new relationships in their sixties and beyond. Between 2011 and 2012 the numbers of people getting married aged over sixty five rose by 25 per cent for men and 21 per cent for women. In addition there are many relationships where the couple choose not to marry or live together, each preferring to retain more independence.
Leisure centres often rely on the older generation to bring in revenue for activities such as badminton, swimming and yoga during daytime hours when other customers are at work. Adult education classes are also popular with older people keen to learn new skills.
Expectations are changing, with many older people now seeking financial comfort, friendships and romance, as well as a more active lifestyle in their later years. With aspirations like these, surely the older generation will be more an active player in, and less of a burden on society than some people predict.