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Valerie, an older woman, sitting on a chair

Valerie’s voice

Valerie, 77, tells her story of retirement, driven by ill health and demands of work, which made it difficult to remain in employment.

“Employers need to understand that although we are getting older, our minds are still very active and we have so much to offer.”

For more than 40 years, Valerie worked as a senior legal assistant specialising in family law.

Her expertise and knowledge were highly regarded by courts in and around south east London and Kent. But when her health faltered soon after she turned 60, Valerie felt she had no option but to take early retirement.

“My mind was fine and I was still able to do a good job,” said Valerie, who lives in Charlton. “I had worked for many years without ever needing time off.”

However, like many people in later life, Valerie was living with a number of long-term conditions including polymyalgia rheumatica, deep vein thrombosis, diabetes and osteoporosis. Treatment was required, which meant Valerie had to make a number of life-changing decisions including giving up driving. The need to take time off work meant putting pressure on others and so she, reluctantly, decided to retire.

I was very disappointed. I was good at my job and I felt I still had so much to offer but it was a job which required full commitment.

Even though her employers were extremely sympathetic and supportive, she felt that the demands and expectations of work generally made it difficult to remain in employment as long as she would’ve liked.

Valerie, now 77, said: “Employers need to understand that although we are getting older, our minds are still very active and we have so much to offer.”

The State of Ageing in 2019

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