There was a lot of fire on your last birthday cake.

The wits in your family made a big show of bringing an extinguisher tableside (ha ha), but you do have to admit that the candle power then really was impressive.

It reminded you that you’re not getting any younger, but with When We’re 64 by Louise Ansari, you can prepare to kindle the next phase of your life.

So when will you die?

That’s not such an odd question. It’s something you’ve no doubt thought about, and for most of us, the good news is that we’re “likely to live longer than [we] think.” Life expectancies have been on the rise for decades, so how can you make your decades the best?

There are, says Ansari, many “keys to a great later life.”

First, she says, “Keep working.” If you like your job, downsize your hours instead of retiring fully, or find a part-time job in another industry that intrigues you. This helps keep your mind sharp for new things.

Volunteer, if you can’t find the right job; working a free gig might open some surprising doors.

Stay healthy, don’t smoke, lose weight, eat right, and don’t skip doctor’s visits. Also get out and socialize, but remember that relationships with peers, family, and romantic interests may change as you age.

Gently urge others to stop using “young lady,” “old fogey,” and other negative terms, and take “ageist” words and phrases out of your own vocabulary.

Strive to be upbeat, and learn to “respond more positively” to change; studies show that keeping a happy mindset could add more than seven years to your life!

Finally, the elephant in the room: Know that it’s never too late to start saving. Try to figure out how much money you’ll need to fully retire, and familiarize yourself with federal laws relating to Social Security.

Know where you’ll want to live, and factor that in on your financial spreadsheet — and on that note, make sure your home is appropriate for you for as long as you want to stay there.

While When We’re 64 seems meant for time-blessed 50-somethings who are squinting at faraway retirement, it’s possible that if you’re a 60- or 70-something who can translate while reading, you’ll still find takeaways here.

Yes, author Louise Ansari wrote this book expressly for residents of Great Britain, which means there are policy differences and unique terms in some chapters, but it’s not a terrible stretch to recalibrate for stateside situations.

Those are minor issues, compared to the one that truly may turn readers away, which is that this book is a lot like the other several hundred retirement books on shelves already. Don’t misunderstand: It’s a helpful thing, but if you’ve read two other retirement-advice-type books, you’ve read this one, too.

You haven’t started planning, though? Then it’s a good start because it’s filled with soft challenges, simple ideas, and doable tips. If retirement prep is all new to you, When We’re 64 could get you fired up.


The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old, and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 14,000 books.

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