There was a debate in parliament recently about women who stand to lose money due to the rise in their state pension age from 64 to 65 in 2018, and 66 by 2020.  The pensions minister said that parliament will not change its mind about helping them, as some have been campaigning for, but will help retrain them for another job in their pre-pension years.  He said, ‘We have also extended apprenticeship opportunities as one of the best routes to skilled employment for people of all ages and gender.’

He was heckled by MP Graham Jones who said, ‘Did the minister just say that women aged 64 could go on an apprenticeship?’ (The Telegraph, 6th July)

Why not?

But the real question is – why not?  Women (and men) are living longer than ever, and in general, are healthier for longer.  Studies are showing that many age related conditions have been pushed back to much later in life, so with more time and better health than previous generations, why not take advantage and do something new?  (Besides, won’t those extra years call for more cash?)

The delightful cricketing commentator, Henry Blofeld (‘Blowers’ to his fans), says that although he is giving up his radio job, he has no intention of retiring.  ‘If you retire at 65, there is every reason you could live for another 25 years,’ he said, ‘Doing nothing would be terrifying, absolutely terrifying.’ (The Telegraph, 4 July 2017).  He outlined his plans for continuing to delight millions of listeners.

In What’s Age Got To Do With It there are stories of women in their 80s and 90s who are still enjoying their work.  The dressmaker who expanded her business with a new sewing machine at the age of 101, and the 80-something still working as receptionist for a famous-name hair stylist.  A few months’ ago the Mature Times carried a picture of an 89 year old who was still working as a carer – because she wanted to.

Of course, there will be those who, sadly, will have disabilities that prevent them journeying on in  this way.   Our prayer for them is that they will always be blessed with the company of family and friends, and enjoy a rich prayer life.   On Sunday I’ll be visiting our care home in Plymouth, where an elderly lady who is completely bed-ridden knits all sorts of things for various charities.  I’m told she’s knitting a basket with cakes in it to show me!  But one thing is for sure, she is never lonely in our home.

So, how does the thought of an apprenticeship and a new career at the age of 64 appeal to you?

Louise Morse

Louise Morse MA (CBT) is media and external relations manager for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society. She is a writer and speaker, and author of books on issues of old age, including dementia, published by Lion Monarch and SPCK. She is a cognitive behavioural therapist, and her Masters’ dissertation examined the effects of caring for a loved one with dementia on close relatives.

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