Well enough to work?
November 24, 2011 Leave a comment
An interesting session was hosted in London on Tuesday by the International Longevity Centre (ILC): Older workers, health and employment. While nothing overwhelmingly new came out of it, the keynote speech by Dame Carol Black in particular on trends in the health of older workers nevertheless created an impact.
Although, as she pointed out, one in four of us born today can expect to live to 100, the factors mitigating that in terms of our own poor health are startling. As the fourth fattest nation in the world we are facing a situation where 40% of all UK adults will be obese by 2025 and three quarters of the population will be too ill to work to the projected retirement age of 68.
Her presentation clearly underlined Abraham Lincoln’s point that “It’s not the years in your life that count but the life in your years”. The spectre of so many of us living longer in ill health and disability is an appalling prospect at every level – individual, societal and economic – and tantamount to a total disaster.
In the main the session focused on what employers can or could do to help the situation through health and wellbeing programmes and what these might encompass. Little mention was given of individual responsibility and how, rather ironically in light of this topic, you can lead a horse to water…
Realistically lack of knowledge about lifestyle habits and their effects generally isn’t the problem, and neither is lack of employer support. What is the problem is lack of motivation, good role models and a realistic understanding of the consequences of our actions (or inaction).
If those of us “in the know” in the ageing arena can be startled by such figures, surely a well-produced TV documentary series would have considerable impact on the man (and woman) in the street?