Monday, 28 June 2010


This was the great line I heard at a group discussion I recently ran with some quite elderly people. Trevor who uttered it was mildly ironic about it – being forgotten isn’t the end of the world he reflected.

Well for many it is.
Yet this group of highly intelligent people who spoke thoughtfully in punctuated sentences without pause, repetition or deviation were speaking for what soon will represent 25% of the UK population.
The average survival age today is apparently 89 – it was 64 in 1920.
Pensions and retirement are in the news and are big news this week in the budget and are going to be over the next few governments because we can’t afford them. Ian Duncan Smith one of the stars in this coalition because he’s so clearly done his homework is gently explaining we’ve got to work longer.
Not only can we not afford the pension costs as they stretch off into an ever lengthening future, we can’t afford the waste of talent.
The papers have lines like “make us work till we drop”…in my experience its younger people who collapse with stress and exhaustion much more readily.
It was striking in this group discussion how these people talked about their skills and how they were still using them but not enough and not on enough stuff. I wondered how good a think-tank they’d be and concluded they’d be terrific – ego free, wise and liberally minded….yes most of all that. Their sense of tolerance was remarkable. But I guess even they might be under pressure to retain their cool if they encountered some of the current corporate bureaucracy.
For instance it’s company policy at some places to exclude the elderly. A 75-year-old was told she would only be allowed to sign the forms for the Carphone Warehouse's TalkTalk phone and broadband package if she was accompanied by a younger member of her family who could explain the small print to her.
When my father was 60 he was getting on and ready to rest a bit. I know 70 year olds nowadays who are ready to go for it.
It’s time to realise that retirement is not a sign of game-over but a time of game-on.

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