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Leaving the workforce means very different things to different people. For some it is a time of reward. For others it becomes a difficult passage. Importantly retirement from work needn’t be about retiring from life. The WHO now describes getting older as a time for active ageing. Preparing for your retirement is therefore essential so that you can enjoy that next period of your life, feel fulfilled, and maintain physical and mental wellbeing. In fact feeling positive about getting chronologically older can lengthen your life.

More importantly good planning and preparation will help ensure that you not only age healthily and maintain cognitive fitness but are capable of having a richly fulfilling time whilst simultaneously reducing your risk of disease. But do not rush into retirement unless you plan to be very mentally active. Early retirement is a significant risk factor for dementia (for more information see Older age at retirement is associated with decreased risk of dementia C Dufouil – ‎2014).

Research consistently indicates that a sense of fulfillment and meaning throughout retirement helps maintain cognitive, mental and physical health, and is gained through having an engaged and active life. How prepared are you for a post-work mentally stimulating life? Answer these simple questions to get yourself started on active ageing

1. What options for productive activities do you have? (semi-retirement, part-time work, casual work, volunteering, mentoring, being on a board, community service)

2. What are your life style expectations for post-work, and those of your partner?

3. What interests/ study / hobbies / activities have you established already outside of work that you want to continue?

4. What new activities, opportunities have you created to develop new social network?

5. How do you imagine spending your typical day?

6. What will give you meaning and purpose in retirement?

Be proactive. Maintain your health by arranging regular e checkups and think prevention by keeping physically active and having a good diet and adequate sleep. Stay connected with people, remain curious and embrace post-work life as a time of opportunity.