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Could working for longer be good for our health and longevity? It seems to work in Japan!


Article by Ceri Wheeldon

benefits of working longer image

Many of us are either choosing (or having to) work for longer, especially with the increase in state pension age. But , providing the opportunities for employment are there, is that  necessarily a bad thing?

I really enjoyed  The Real Marigold on Tour  TV programme over the Christmas break where four celebs who had reached the traditional retirement age went to both Florida and Japan to experience what retirement looked like within these two very different cultures.

Miriam Margolyes ,  Bobby George ,  Rosemary Shrager and Wayne Sleep all experienced first hand life for the over 65s in Japan, starting their day with exercises in the park early morning  (with instructions broadcast over the radio) , following the Japanese diet, and attending job interviews! So , thousands of miles away from home they found themselves working – Rosemary as a sous chef in a sushi restaurant and the others as assistants in a shop geared towards western tourists.

Rosemary Shrager said that she loved the experience, and it certainly made here think about attitudes to work and ‘retirement’ back in the UK.

The Japanese embrace older workers

The Japanese embrace older workers. I can remember many years ago in my recruitment career being involved in a project for a Japanese electronics company. They were desperately short of people with specific engineering skills. One of the people we recruited on their behalf was in his 50s. He had been made redundant from his role in The UK and could not even get a job interview because of his age. He was thrilled to be ending his career with the added excitement of living in Japan, and the company were thrilled to be able to attract such a talented individual. He age, and the experience he brought to the role, was seen as a positive, not a negative.

Women over 50 make great employees

I have often highlighted what a great talent pool is available to employers when they consider women over 50 for roles – this post I wrote ages ago was, and continues to be,  extremely popular Why women over 50 make great employees.  But the advantages are far more than financial to those who work for longer. Being an active part of the community, increased social contact, continuing to expand skills and learn new things, the additional exercise just by travelling , walking to and from car parks or bus stops, all helps to contribute to a healthier  and if Japan is anything to go by, a longer life.

Interesting life expectancy has increased in New Zealand  . They scrapped the default retirement age 20 years ago and have an increasingly mature workforce.

So, although many may consider the need to work longer as negative, provided we can work to change mindsets of employers when it comes to employing older people, and as long as we can ensure that we all maintain skills that are marketable, the benefits could far outweigh the negatives.

If you haven’t yet seen The Real Marigold on Tour- try to find it on catch up. The Japanese episode was broadcast on BBC 2 on Dec 30th. Or here is the link for iplayer .

Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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