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Poet: "Seventy years in a Fistful of Sand": At 70, Irish poet Brendan Kennelly retired from his teaching job at Trinity College, Dublin, after 43 years.

For Kennelly, 70 came as a shock: "Seventy years in a fistful of sand."

Retirement also hit him hard:

Strangely enough, when you retire you’re looking forward to it and then when it happens you’re on your own. The company is gone. You’re totally on your own. That experience also coincided with my birthday. I have always loved birthdays, but to be collecting an old-age pension and things, well, I said to myself, "You’re haunted by the past, which is now gone. You know nothing of the future, which is yet to happen. All you have is now."

Kennelly has transformed the emptiness he felt at the time of his retirement into a book-length poem called Now (Bloodaxe Books, 2006).

Source: Suzanne Power, Sunday Tribune (October, 8, 2006).


Playgrounds for Over-70s: A recent study by researchers at The King’s College London suggests regular exercise may have an anti-aging effect (Archives of Internal Medicine, January 28, 2008). That’s good news for the Dam Head Residents’ Association, who opened the U.K.’s first playground for older adults last January.

Located in Dam Head Estate in Blackley, north Manchester, the park has six machines designed to strengthen hips, tone legs and exercise the upper body. Some of the equipment is accessible to wheelchair users. The push to build the new playground came from the local resident’s association, who were inspired by a similar playground in West Berlin (see AHB Roundup, September/October, 2007).

Jane Fitzgerald, 76, chair of the Dam Head Residents’ Association, told BBC News, "It’s about health and fitness. A lot of older people don’t want to go to gyms."

The play area cost about $30,000 (Canadian). It was funded by Northwards Housing, which runs the local estate.

Source: BBC NEWS


Retirement Capital and the Common Good: Markus Frind, founder of an online dating service called Plenty of Fish, reports that baby boomers are signing up in droves for online dating services. Indeed, it’s now the biggest growth market for all dating sites. According to James Lloyd of the International Longevity Centre, U.K., it’s time governments, firms and nonprofit organizations used a similar tack – online social networking – to capture the untapped potential of retirees. Lloyd argues that a clear strategy is required to enable retirees to "transfer" accumulated human and social capital to other generations.

To read his cogent think piece, go to International Longevity Centre, U.K, look for publications, and click on "Retirement Capital and Online Social Networking."


Cultivating the Vacation Mentality: When psychologist Robert Kegan turned 40, he decided to bring as much of the "vacation mentality" into his everyday life as possible.

The Harvard professor describes the vacation mentality as: "a mix of breaking routine, taking pleasure, sensory adventuring, random contemplation, exuberance, appreciation and, above all, having fun."

According to Kegan, the problem is putting vacations off "until the summer, until I retire, until I’m richer . . ." But rounding the corner on middle age, Kegan decided to sew the vacation mentality thickly and regularly through the basic fabric of his life.

Source: Handbook of Aging and Mental Health: An Integrative Approach (Plenum Press).