“We’ve put more effort into helping folks reach old age than into helping them enjoy itFrank Howard Clark

Grinding onTempus Fugit … So What!

Absolutely shocking! I’ve still more than a quarter of my life to go (see below). We older citizens have a future: good or bad, rough or smooth, and that’s what this piece is about.

Many over 60’s will have to stay in employment, get back to work or, at least, find a way to generate income. The banking collapse and other stupidities happened and, irrespective of blame, we are where we are.

Fix it? Why?

Is your spirit broken? I doubt it. At our age we’ve all had tough times and we Scots/Brits [insert your nationality] have grit. Yet, regardless of our spirit, it’s one thing to get up off the floor and quite another to push on and create an alternative future.

Shape Up

As I think, so I am. There’s truth in that statement. It also applies to other assessing us: as they think, so we are. These two perceptions challenge us to make time and apply effort to:

Look at ourselves

  • determine our true situation
  • decide how we want our lives and world to be
  • assess options and plan action to achieve our goals
  • challenge unhelpful assumptions

Make a move

How are we going to engage with helpers? People like:

  • employers
  • past, present or future colleagues
  • banks, agencies and charities who can help us start a new business

Why Bother?

Doing nothing is a valid option. And, if that’s your position, I’d stop reading this and find something more in line with your train of thought. Everything comes to he or she who waits: poverty, disease and depression to name but three. 

We’d best face the facts:

1. The chances are we’re going to live

A Life Expectancy Calculator helped me work out how a surgeon might calculate my chances. This tells me I’ve 23 years to go. That’s more than a quarter of my life still to come! Ten years or more of productive life with any luck. Take care of myself and maybe quite a lot more.

I entered figures for a person who smokes like a chimney, drinks like a fish and eats loads of calories and E numbers. If it had been me I’d have been dead 8 years ago. This goes to show that if you are around and over 60 there can still be good times ahead … who’s a party animal then?

2. Keeping older people in work is trending towards a “good thing”

Imagine, not having us around and productive could be problematic:

A main concern is that with the retirement of the baby boomers, the number of people of a working, taxable age will shrink or become stagnant. This could result in gaps in the jobs market, with businesses and public services lacking the workforce required.”

Pensions Minister said:

“Older people are the main untapped source of labour in this country. Britain is in a global economic race and we’re moving towards a landscape where there will be a set of jobs that employers cannot fill with anyone but experienced older workers. A firm that doesn’t make use of the talent pool on offer amongst the over fifties will be left behind.” So it must be true.

Reality Check

There’s lots we can do for ourselves: attend courses, do business planning, network, apply for jobs. The good news is some of the commonly held ideas about the capability, reliability and potential of older people is unfounded.

Research (November 2012) based on a review of 380 ‘empirical articles’ from 1970 to 2011 reports that, like most stereotypes, those about older people in work are completely unfounded. The outcome still challenges widely held beliefs (May 2015) that older employees are:

  • less motivated
  • less willing to engage in training and career development
  • more resistant to change
  • not as trusting
  • more likely to experience health problems that affect their work
  • more vulnerable to work–family conflicts

The researchers bottom line was: “Most stereotypes about older workers don’t hold water. As the average age of the labor force continues to rise, managers should shed several long-held misconceptions about older employees, de-emphasize age in personnel decisions, and take a more active approach to celebrating the positive attributes of highly experienced employees.”

Sum Up

We’re living longer. We have potential. We have a contribution to make and employers and politicians appear to believe they need us and want us.

Of course we need to get out there and make things happen; and there’s nothing like pushing at an open door … is there?

Mac Logan
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