Henry Ford, American industrialist and founder of the Ford Motor Company, once said: “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”
And he’s not wrong.
Getting the most out of your mind by working for as long as you possibly can, is a very wise idea, as EastEnders legend June Brown knows only too well. According to The Mirror, the actress who plays Dot Branning has recently been approached by producers to cut her hours.
But despite being 88 years old, the star is having none of it. The character she has played for 30 years is currently banged up in prison for killing her son Nick, but is apparently due to be released later this year and will be as central to the storyline as ever.
Why working keeps your brain young
“Our minds need stimulation,” says renowned hypnotherapist and author Georgia Foster.
“They need to be stretched as much as possible. When you stop utilising parts of your mind, it learns that it’s not needed.
“I think self esteem is key to continuing to work as long as you want. Everybody wants to belong and the older generation in particular need to connect as much as possible. Loneliness can be a horrific burden and working can alleviate that.”
Dr Michael Spira, medical director and GP (www.thesmartclinics.co.uk), agrees: “If retirement results in less physical and mental activity, which so often is the case, the brain may start to slow down, and this can lead to memory difficulties and confusion.
“If you have a job that you enjoy, try to hang on to it for as long as you can!”
What happens to your ‘grey matter’ when you retire?
“Retirement means you have to ‘reinvent’ yourself,” says Annie Kaszina, life coach and author of Do You Choose Your Dog More Carefully Than Your Husband?
“For some people that works really well, for others it does not; they struggle to find a sense of meaning and purpose. They become less valuable in society’s eyes.
“One of the questions we hear all the time is: ‘What do you do?’ It’s a question that presupposes your worth and interests are intimately connected with your working role, not who you are.
“While the capacity for heavy physical work may decline with the years, the capacity for creative thinking does not.
“June Brown is a case in point. She is perfectly capable of deciding for herself when she needs to scale back. The country needs more icons like her and Bruce Forsyth in the public eyeto remind us that older just means more years on the clock. It doesn’t have to mean physically or mentally infirm.
“Besides, working longer may well also save the government money. An interesting report from the French government suggests that people who work longer are significantly less likely to suffer from dementia.”