Today, November 8 2017, I celebrate my 65th birthday, and have reached my retirement age. That is the age at which I can claim the national pension.
For many years the retirement age in the UK has been 65 for men and 60 for women, but that’s all changing. Indeed, if I had been born just 11 months later, my retirement aged would have been 66. And the later your date of birth, the later retirement age will be. The plan is that it will eventually rise to 68 for everyone.
So, what does it mean for me?
Well, I have finally reached an age that always seemed so far away in the most distant future. But as the wheel of life continues to turn relentlessly through the seasons, the years pass … seemingly faster and faster.
When, I received a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis 15½ years ago, I was 49. Even then, 65 seemed so very far away, but here I am.
Will I be putting my feet up and be taking life more slowly? Not a chance, except when fatigue creeps up on me. My mobility may be seriously affected by having MS, but my electric wheelchair lets me get out and about and ensures my independence (special thanks here to Shaun Atkinson and his Better Products for Disabled People company).
Retirement, the MS fight goes on
My family is the greatest thing in my life. My beloved wife Lisa (who is my lover, my carer, and my rock) and two cats make up our household here in southern Spain where we enjoy the good life of 300 days of sunshine a year.
I haven’t been able to go out to work for 10 years now, because of MS, so reaching retirement age means little to me. Certainly, no retirement party or parting gift. I will continue, though, to write this blog as well as occasional articles about healthcare.
I am determined to enjoy my retirement years, notwithstanding this terrible disease. After all, I am still me. Age is just a number, nothing more, nothing less.
MS doesn’t define me. Neither does disability, nor age; I define myself.
I may be disabled. I may be retired, a pensioner, a senior citizen. But most of all, I am me, a person. And, as far as MS is concerned, I am a fighter, a warrior, and tireless advocate.
MS will never get me, I’ll never give up. Nor should you. Whether you have MS, another disease, or have a disability from a different cause. Stand strong.
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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.