The dreams we once harboured during our salad days are usually superseded by the time we reach middle age. The onset of grey hair invariably results in our ambitions becoming tempered and more pragmatic. Though this is not to say we shrink our horizons –instead, most of us set ourselves more realistic and achievable targets. With more time on our hands, we can tackle projects that would have been impossible 20 years ago.

Baby boomers are generally up for a challenge because they’re fitter than any similarly-aged cohort in history. Consider the millions of over-55s who run, swim, hike, cycle and walk for every conceivable charitable cause. No wonder a survey recently found that 80pc of those in the autumn of their life claimed to feel younger than their biological age. Furthermore, almost 20pc of this age group believe this is the period in which they expect to achieve most of their life goals.

Not surprisingly, travel and self-improvement are among the two most ardent ambitions harboured by the baby boomers. There are also many who wish to display their nonconformist streak by acquiring a sports car or motorbike, or by having their ears pierced or getting a tattoo.

Volunteering rates highly, as does raising money for charity and getting involved in local drama groups and choirs. In short, 55 has become the new 30 as older people embrace the notion that being older doesn’t necessarily mean being less active.

Though having unfulfilled ambitions is a good thing because it acts as an incentive to achieve them, there can be obstacles to overcome – not least the availability of money. Although almost 30pc of those over 55 maintain that it is a lack of time, not cash, that prevents them from achieving their goals.

Conjuring money up from nowhere is, as every adult knows, impossible. Wouldn’t it be great to top-up the pension or build an extension, travel more or give the children a leg-up onto the property ladder? Up until fairly recently, the only way of doing this was to sell up, downsize and pocket what was left over. For many, this remains an excellent idea, but not everyone wants to move house and sever ties with memories built over decades.

According to Equity Release Supermarket chief executive Mark Gregory: “Statistics suggest that only a tiny percentage of people eligible to do so have released equity from their homes in order to enjoy a better quality of retirement. This is despite the fact that the over-55s are believed to be sitting on more than £1 trillion in housing wealth.”

Specialist advisers can help older homeowners access a percentage of their accumulated property wealth so that they may fulfil their ambitions. Furthermore, the funds they release are tax-free. The reaction of many readers who have worked a lifetime to enjoy their retirement and fulfil those ambitions might be: ‘Why not?’

To explore how much equity they could withdraw as tax-free cash, readers may wish to browse Mr Gregory’s company website, home to the unique smartER platform which provides a range of real-time, equity release-related information.

Homeowners are free to do whatever they like with their tax-free money and with a lifetime mortgage, the most popular method for releasing equity. They’re guaranteed to retain full ownership of their home for life. They can also be assured that, if required, they will never have to make any monthly payments.

It’s worth noting that a lifetime mortgage may reduce the ultimate value of your estate and could affect your entitlement to means-tested state benefits. However, the combination of tax-free cash, no repayments and guaranteed homeownership for life means that equity release could prove the answer to those wishing to start working on fulfilling their later life ambitions before it’s too late.

For more financial advice, check out Peter Sharkey’s regular blog, The Week In Numbers.

This column is for general information only and cannot be relied on as financial advice for individuals. Consult your professional adviser.