Keeping busy the key to Gay's happy retirement
Veteran broadcaster Gay Byrne said yesterday he has been so busy in his working life he never suffered from depression.
But he was mindful of the risks which stepping down from full-time broadcasting posed. He started to prepare for his departure from RTE three years in advance of leaving his six-and-half-day week behind.
"It was most important to telegraph myself that retirement was coming in three years, two years and one year."
He was speaking at the launch of a campaign that showed that more than a third of older people may be struggling to keep depression at bay.
"I believe if you prepare yourself for retirement and have an abundance of interests -- whether it's butterfly or bird spotting -- as long as you are looking forward to those things after your day is finished it's a huge help."
He suggested if someone looks to their job as the main reason for getting up every day they are at risk when retirement comes.
Prof Brian Lawlor, psychiatrist in St James's Hospital, said depression was not an inevitable part of ageing and it was important people felt an engagement with life otherwise they were not going to feel healthy.
"The absence of loneliness is very important in healthy ageing ... the risk of loneliness to physical health has been estimated as about the same as smoking."
He urged people to discuss their emotional health with their GP and said if they had symptoms of depression it could be treated. AWARE, the depression support group helpline, is 1890 303 302.