To continue the BBC’s When I’m 65 age awareness campaign, BBC One aired ‘The Town that Never Retired’ featuring Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford last night.

The episode is the first of two and documents a group of 14 pensioners from Preston returning to full time work aged 70 plus. I was particularly interested to watch because I’m fascinated to see how the pensioners handle a working environment; I’d like to see if they still have the skills and knowledge required and if working a 40 hour week is possible given their age and health.

Nick Jewer the town that never retired

The documentary used a series of working environments ranging from a building site, estate agent, hospital, busy restaurant and factory where pensioners were placed within an environment that was similar to where they worked before they retired. For example Roy, George and Alan, who all had a trade, were placed on a construction site whilst Shelia, a retired nurse, took the role as a Health Care Assistant at a local hospital.

Some of the pensioners were simply interested to see what returning to work would feel like after been retired for a number of years. However others needed to work for money because their pensions simply don’t cover the cost of living, a problem which will no doubt be an enormous issue for our aging population in the near future.

The pensioners’ success at work ranged. Some struggled to keep up with the pace of a working environment, whilst modern technology and new equipment got the better of others. However most thoroughly enjoyed their time at work even if getting up early was a struggle, and that was really encouraging to see.

Margaret and Babara the town that never retired

I was impressed overall but particularly with Ruth, a retired receptionist who wanted to go back to work for a sense of purpose. She was placed in a busy restaurant as a waitress and although 76, she was bright, a team player and looked at ease serving customers and interacting with other members of staff.

The programme concluded with the employers deciding whether or not they would like to keep on their older workers and the overall consensus was that working at such an age can be successful. However it’s all dependent on the person and their abilities. In some cases work was good fun, but for others the conditions were impossible and could be a real hazard. So will working until aged 70 plus be a realistic plan for the future? I’m not sure but I certainly don’t think that older people shouldn’t be underestimated especially because my own father, Bill Steadman, is still working hard to discover new inventions despite being in his 80’s.

Watch the first episode of The Town that Never Retired on BBC iPlayer now and don’t forget to tune into episode two tonight BBC One at 9pm where the older workers are compared to young people applying for the same role and were asked if age really does make a difference.

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