I'm 53 and feel like I'm on the scrapheap already after yet another job rejection. I've got a solid 30 years experience in my field yet I always seem to be pipped at the post for the jobs that I go for. I think age is definitely a factor.
When I first started out, workplaces seemed to have a very diverse range of ages. But glancing round the offices I've visited for interviews, the vast majority of employees seemed to be in the 20-40 age bracket so I clearly no longer tick that particular box.
If you've faced a similar situation and managed to change direction later on in life I'd love to hear what you did.
I'm approaching 50 and have lots of friends who have done what you describe. The common denominator is self-employment following retraining. One is a counsellor for Relate & Cruse having done night classes for three years. Another is a mediator who help families sort finances & access issues. Another provides Reiki & complementary therapies. Previously they were an accountant, worked in a bank, worked for the council in town planning.