This originally appeared in ScotBuzz a couple of years back.

Don't worryTempus Fugit?

I’m a Buss Passer. Imagine my surprise when I learned I’ve more than a quarter of my life still to go. Some of the links below share more.

We ‘senior citizens’ have a future. Politicians and businesses now view oldies as a resource. Maybe things aren’t as awful as we think, and that’s what this piece is about.

Many of us over 60’s realise we’re going to have to stay in employment, get back to work or find a way to generate income. The banking collapse happened, irrespective of how we may want to apportion blame or moan or criticise the incompetence and greed that brought it about. We are where we are.

Indomitable

Are you broken? I doubt it. At our age we’ve all had tough times and we Scots (Brits) have grit.

Regardless of our spirit, it’s one thing to get up off the floor and quite another to push on and make an alternative future.

We’re bound for unfamiliar territory and we’re going to have to be effective in our new world. Isn’t it exciting?

Shape Up

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

  1. 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
  1. Engage with ‘helpers’

How are we going to get others to help and support us? People like:

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

What can we do? Is it true that we’re not valued?

Why Bother?

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

Like it or not:

  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 be good times ahead.

  1. 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.

Former Pensions Minister Steve Webb 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. Courses, workshops, business planning, calling people, applying for jobs. The good news is some of the commonly held ideas about the capability, reliability and potential of older people is unfounded.

Research (2013) based on a review of 380 ‘empirical articles’ from 1970 to 2011 reports that, like most stereotypes, those about older workers are completely unfounded. The outcome challenges beliefs 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 are starting to believe they need us and want us.

Of course we need to get out there and make things happen.

There’s nothing like pushing at an open door … is there?

© Mac Logan