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Do We Know Our Old People?

Baby-boom pensioners are putting an end to our preconceptions of grumpy old men, instead living lives full of friends and free time. That begs one question - do we know our old people?

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This is John...

He retired four years ago, so of course he worked out how to live on a pitiful pension, curses a problematic prostate and moved into a care home.

Uh, no.

He has plenty of disposable income, complete bladder control and lives perfectly independently.

In fact, despite pushing 70 he referees professional rugby.

And it’s not like rugby has been his lifelong passion. He took it up in his 50s after moving to Hong Kong, where the local Football Association wouldn’t let him ref football matches.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t know many millennials who can keep up with professional athletes for 80 minutes.

Even though his active weekends have him in the gym three times a week, John doesn’t want to get bored.

To stay sharp, he works as a part-time negotiator for a union in the USA and Canada. The frequent mental exercise keeps his wits winged and conversation confident.

All that activity means he’s nothing like the lonely old men current stereotypes say he is.

Like most over-65s (57% according to the 2011 census), John is married. He also has a network of friends, which means he rarely has a free day. Between social visits to the pub and SCUBA diving weekends away, it’s clear being lonely isn’t a given when you get older.

It might sound like John has simply put off retiring fully, that with his part time job he’s been able to cling to his youth a bit longer, but the beauty of John’s story is that he has fully embraced his retirement.

He now has the time to do what he wants. He has a part time job because it interests him. He referees rugby because he loves sport. And he keeps being social because he likes people.

What’s even better? John isn’t an unusual pensioner. He doesn’t know any over-65s who fit the old stereotype of grumpy, lonely old people.

Do you?

This post is part of the #NewAge campaign, which is striving to show the world that age isn't something to dread, rather to envy. Search #NewAge on Twitter for more.

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