Judi Dench ‘learns poem a day to keep mind active’

Dame Judi was among a host of celebrities to be quizzed on their 'bucket list' choices. Picture: Getty
Dame Judi was among a host of celebrities to be quizzed on their 'bucket list' choices. Picture: Getty
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SHE played the sharp-witted head of British secret service, and now Dame Judi Dench has revealed she learns a new poem or word every day to keep her mind active as she advances in years.

The Oscar-winning actress, who suffers from macular degeneration – an age-related condition leading to loss of vision – revealed her secret following a new survey that found nearly half of pensioners were concerned about life in older age.

Dame Judi, 79, who bowed out of playing M in the James Bond movies after the most recent film Skyfall, joined actor Sir Tony Robinson and former Slade frontman Noddy Holder for the poll of more than 2,000 people aged over 65, in which they were asked for their “bucket list” of things they want to do before they die.

Sir Tony, 68, who came to prominence as Blackadder’s sidekick Baldrick in the BBC 
series and has presented the C4 history show Time Team since 1995, said he dreamed of becoming an internationally renowned professional gambler, according to telecare service provider Centra Plus, which commissioned the research.

Holder, also 68, revealed he wanted to travel the world in a yacht, while Dame Judi said she did not have a bucket list but that she did learn a new poem or word each day.

When it came to the aspirations of those questioned by YouGov, who conducted the poll, flying a helicopter, seeing the northern lights and learning a language or a musical instrument also featured among the 40 most popular ambitions of pensioners.

Among the more prosaic wishes in the top 20 were to be financially secure, lose weight and watch a favourite sports team play one last time.

But 40 per cent of pensioners also said they were worried about life getting more difficult as they grow older.

An Age Scotland spokeswoman said of the findings: “It’s positive to see the wide range of ambitions people have in later life. These years should be seen as an opportunity in which to fulfil lifelong aims and try new things.

“Of course, later life can bring with it challenges.

“It is unsurprising that a significant proportion of people say they worry about getting older. None of us has a crystal ball, so it is a step into the unknown, and we have all heard phrases such as ‘demographic timebomb’ many times over.

“However, this outdated and negative view of our older population does nothing to recognise the amazing contribution older people make in our communities as volunteers and carers, within the workforce and as cultural contributors.”

The spokeswoman added that to make the most of later life, it was important that people thought about and planned for old age – from financial planning to looking after their health and keeping active.

Some 30 per cent of pensioners said that travel was their top wish during retirement, with Australia the most popular destination, followed by America, New Zealand, Canada and China.

Perhaps surprisingly, buying a house, going to university and falling in love were also on the over-65s’ bucket lists.

Wendy Darling, Centra Plus managing director, said: “Today’s over-65s have a set of ambitions that would put most twenty-somethings to shame.”