February 22, 2012 Leave a comment
May 27, 2011 Leave a comment
Recent research* has revealed that only around half (53 per cent) of people aged 50 to 59 are planning for later life. While the study itself defined “later life” as 60 and over, the survey respondents themselves thought on average it started at around age 58. Hardly the far-off future mists of time, then.
This is alarming news bearing in mind the dire daily warnings about the shortfall between pensions income and longevity on an individual basis and the fact that “later life” now lasts, on average, around 20 to 30 years.
The reasons behind the lack of planning were that people said they didn’t tend to plan in advance, or they felt themselves to be too young, or that later life was too far off. Respondents who were planning for later life were most likely to be in managerial and professional occupations and/or those with higher educational qualifications and higher incomes.
In light of this information it seems that employers would do well to take the initiative and start providing later life planning courses for their employees aged from the mid 40s onwards. This would be of great benefit for employees in directing their thoughts towards certain significant inevitabilities that they do need to think about and plan for (e.g. health, finance, quality of life). It would also help employers themselves open the door to an ongoing dialogue with employees as they age, about their plans to work, change jobs, and retire and all the associated implications for both sides.
Such dialogue over a long period of time would solve many of the problems that employers currently fear around the recent abolition of default retirement age. It would address the issues in a timely and progressive manner which currently cannot be done with the usual type of pre-retirement course which, if at all, is offered to employees just prior to retirement.
Here at in my prime we have the resources, in conjuction with Cranfield University, to help any employer who is interested in taking this idea further.
*Study conducted by the Society and Social Change Group at the National Centre for Social Research for the Department for Work and Pensions
November 24, 2010 Leave a comment
In case you hadn’t noticed, this week is Financial Planning Week – we are now halfway through so catch it before it disappears.
In fact, there seem to be number of Financial Planning Weeks during the year run by various financial and financial advisory institutions. This one comes courtesy of the Institute of Financial Planning.
Enough of flippancy.
The Institute says that only 14 per cent of people have put in place definite long-term financial goals, while nearly half are struggling to make their money last until the next pay day.
In an article in the Daily Mail, Nick Cann, chief executive of the Institute, says: ‘Many households are finding it difficult to cope with the adverse economic backdrop and I can’t see that situation improving in the short term as unemployment rises. People need help to take control of their finances and that’s exactly what Financial Planning Week aims to do. By taking advice and putting a long-term plan in place, many households can put their finances back on track.’
The Institute has set up http://www.financialplanningweek.org.uk, a website which contains much useful information, including top financial tips and advice on both long-term savings and keeping a lid on debts.
Cann says: ‘Too many people are merely sold to. We see it all the time with big banks. What happens is these people end up with a mishmash of financial products they don’t really understand. By contrast, what a financial planner does – and many advisers do – is start by addressing an investor’s goals and objectives. Products are only brought into the picture as a means of achieving these objectives.’
This may or not be true but what is undoubtedly true is that huge numbers of people need good financial advice. Although in my prime focuses on the Over 50s, to be in a sound financial position in the second half of our lives requires attention to our finances throughout our lives – pretty much on a continuous basis.
In the parlance now going around; first we accumulate assets and wealth (essentially fill our retirement biscuit tin) and then we decumulate our assets and wealth (essentially empty our biscuit tin) and we need to be thinking and planning in earnest at every stage in the process.
I am afraid it can’t all be done in a week but we might as well start somewhere.
August 12, 2010 Leave a comment
According to figures just released from the Office of National Statistics an extra 40,000 people over the age of 65 have joined the workforce in the last three months taking the total number to 823,000. This is the highest level since the ONS started keeping these figures in 1992 and has occurred despite other widely reported statistics that show huge numbers of over 50s who want to work are unable to get jobs. If they were able to find employment, it is possible this total might double.
These figures mean that one in 12 people over 65 is now working. Some are doing so for obvious financial reasons belying the myth of baby boomers as the “golden generation”who are rolling in money. (According to Aviva, 12 per cent of people aged 65 to 74 still have a mortgage with an average amount outstanding of £59,858.)
More significantly, it is an indication that some are actively choosing to work longer.
In the Daily Telegraph, Ros Altman, ex-Government pensions adviser is reported as saying, “This is a reflection of things to come. For some people working longer is not terrible”.
In the light of negative reactions to abolishing the default retirement age and extending working lives these figures need careful consideration. More than anything else they are proof that 60 or 65, for many, is far too young to stop working. Working longer isn’t terrible, it is something they actively want to do.
Yes, in the same way that we think it would good to win the lottery, most of us think we would love to give up work if we could afford to. But what this shows is that when it comes to it, many over 60s are fit, healthy, and fully capable and want to keep on going for as long as they can. Working provides people with a purpose, value and a place in mainstream society. And after all, if you’ve always avoided living on state handouts throughout your life, why would you – as an active older person – want to do so now?
May 19, 2010 Leave a comment
Silver Surfers’ Day – This Friday, May 21st
While going through my inbox a couple of days ago I came across a piece entitled “Chichester Design helps over-50s get online with Silver Surfers’ Day”. This, of course, reminded me that this very worthwhile event is upon us again and this time has enlisted the help of such icons as Sir Terry Wogan and Dame Vera Lynn.
At in my prime we are very much a computer based organisation, know the potential and the benefits of being computer and internet literate, and very much support this initiative. So we are certainly going to give it a plug.
But before we do, just our usual little rant. We are in the business of convincing the world (or whoever wants to listen) that those over 50 are very much part of the mainstream; in the workplace, in the midst of the family, and in society at large. So I took a little tour of the Silver Surfers’ Day website and entered the door marked “Music Maestro”. I must admit I like free music as much as anybody. But imagine my horror at what I found.
I was brought up on Glenn Miller music (unless I could escape to my room). My parents played it all the time. They danced to it during the war, long before I was born. Anyone who was about twenty at that time is now in their mid to late eighties! Hardly music to appeal the vast majority of the over 5Os then. I rest my case.
However, back to the Day itself.
Check out these links and see where they take you.
July 6, 2009 Leave a comment
As may be seen from our own approach here at in my prime we firmly believe that internet access and online activity is not only the future but is already the present. Accordingly, we very much welcome the Government’s Digital Britain Report and initiatives such as NESTA’s “Reboot Britain”.
It is, therefore, rather disconcerting to see in research carried out for Ofcom that not only is there a significant minority who do not have the internet but that many of them, particularly older people, have “self-excluded” themselves and do not see the need nor the value in getting to grips with the new technology.
We are now in a transition phase and many elderly people did not work in or were not brought up in a computerised environment. Their attitude is at least understandable. The learning curve for them is particularly steep – although that should not, in itself, be an excuse. I have experience of trying to help someone make the transition and there is much that can be done by the computer industry to make the experience easier for the elderly – core programs only, spam-free, virus-free, pop-up free, update restricted etc. etc.
But for those over 50s who have not yet reached this stage in their lives there is no excuse. Whether it be employability, keeping in the social mainstream, access to information, finances, improved purchasing power or a host of other uses and benefits, being connected is of paramount importance. Otherwise a truly second class citizenship will emerge and is already doing so.
Every encouragement, incentive and opportunity must be provided to bring people aboard. This is not another example of a nanny state telling us what is good for us and restricting the freedom of the individual – people must not be allowed to shy away.
He who knows not and knows not that he knows not is a fool; avoid him.
He who knows not and knows that he knows not is a student; teach him.
He who knows and knows not that he knows is asleep; wake him.
He who knows and knows that he knows is a wise man; follow him.
May 5, 2009 Leave a comment
My daughter suggested this blog topic to me.
As I pass away the hours researching for in my prime, my mind is occasionally apt to take a five minute break. During one of these breaks I designed a small poster which is now pinned on my office wall.
My daughter, a doctor working in general practice, on seeing this commented that it would be ideal advice for the many archetypal women in their forties, fifties and sixties who come to see her. These overstressed and overstretched women with their tanks running on empty come to her for some attempt at respite from their depression and mental and physical exhaustion. If it is not children or grandchildren they are caring for it is elderly parents who demand their attention and these while they are trying to juggle a job, the house, being a good partner etc etc.
The advice which is given, “give yourself some space”, “take some time out for yourself” is met with “I haven’t time for that, I’ve so much to do”. And so the vicious circle continues. Nevertheless the advice remains valid and vital.
What does the poster say?
Maybe there’s no “I” in team – but there is “I” twice, together with “my” and “me” in “in my prime”.
April 29, 2009 Leave a comment
Our website www.inmyprime.info is now well-established and continues to be well-visited (go on, have a look if you haven’t already). As a result we are, on a daily basis, emailed and called by numerous marketing and PR people promoting products, services and stories relating to those of mature years in the hope that we will use their material.
We’re not complaining about this. Some of the stuff is very interesting and pertinent. Some of it provides us with knowledge, insight and substance we can use on the website or elsewhere. But unfortunately rather a lot of it has nothing at all to do with the market we operate in.
The array of material we get forcefully underlines just how little marketing and PR people in general understand age. The age group we focus on, as is clearly stated on our website, is 50 to 70. As such it is a totally different generation from the truly elderly which in itself is a group fragmented by health, wealth, and cognitive and other abilities. As our focus is on the mature market our only interest in products and services to do with the rather insensitively named geriatric market is in respect of things we might need or need to know about for our elderly parents or others of that age.
If this was acknowledged by hopeful young PRs we might be somewhat more receptive towards their material. As it is (without naming and shaming) we receive a load of old dross about comfy slippers, fluffy kittens, incontinence products, personal alarms… and far too many pictures of white haired people in their seventies or eighties accompanying press releases containing the words “over 50s”.
Any PR or marketing people who would like to really make a mark on the mature market are advised to get in touch…
April 17, 2009 Leave a comment
A thought-provoking piece of literature crossed my desk a few days ago: the alumni magazine from my daughter’s old school. Contained within it were a number of reunion photos from various year groups and being of that age, the class of ’68 particularly grabbed my attention. As sixth formers then, this group of about a dozen survivors would be coming up to about age 60 now.
The picture was revelatory. Three of the women were well-dressed, impressively groomed and appeared effortlessly attractive in an ageless-contemporary sort of a way. At the other end of the spectrum, three others looked ancient, frumpy and worn out. Asked to guess their age, it probably would have come in as mid-seventies. The group in the middle looked badly dressed, bland, and tired.
Having just re-read Annie Proulx’s short story, “What kind of furniture would Jesus pick?” I was left wondering, based on this photo, “What kind of older woman would an employer pick?” I didn’t need to wonder too long.
Certainly it’s food for thought in the struggle for older worker employment. Particularly as the class of ’78 didn’t look much better.
March 2, 2009 1 Comment
The current economic climate seems to be doing everything possible to make us feel helpless – and in some cases downright desperate and depressed. The only antidote is to try to be positive and to look at what we can do in the face of it all to regain some control and prove we can change things. One of the most significant challenges for the over 50s is to look after our health particularly in the light of a new blast of publicity showing that record levels of drinking, obesity and sedentary behaviour are causing UK citizens to have the highest proportion of preventable cancers ( in a comparative study with the US, Brazil and China).
According to the report by the World Cancer Research Fund around 78,000 of us (of all ages) develop cancer needlessly each year because of our unhealthy lifestyles. Yet healthy living could prevent 39 per cent of cases of the 12 major cancers – including bowel and breast cancer as well as mouth, pharynx and larynx cancer and cancer of the oesophagus. Even more thought-provoking is that these figures don’t include smoking which accounts for one third of cancer cases.
Although the report recommends government intervention to encourage a switch to healthy foods, the ultimate answer – regardless of how unpalatable – is surely that we all have to start taking more responsibility for ourselves and our future health. As older people (reputedly wiser) we also need to be role models for our children, grandchildren, colleagues and friends. Okay, no one wants to start apportioning blame at the stage where you find you’ve succumbed to cancer (or heart disease, stroke, and other related catastrophic illness) but on the other hand it’s too late then to start wishing you’d looked after your health.
February 2, 2009 Leave a comment
When we set up in my prime we thought that our main point of focus was on the 50 to 75 year old section of the population which was clearly not elderly but was perceived so by the rest of the universe and, indeed, many members of that generation themselves. In consequence the legend we attached to our name was “in my prime – for mature people re-thinking their lives”.
This is still very much our area of activity but it is now quite obvious that if we wait for people to reach that magic age of 50 or thereabouts it is likely to be too late to put into place the groundwork necessary for that part of our lives to be truly “in our prime”.
The demographics have been heading only one way for some years now but, we believe, government, employers, and individuals themselves have been in denial hoping the problem will go away, won’t affect us personally, or somehow will be someone else’s problem, despite some introductory measures such as Age Discrimination legislation. It is quite apparent that none of these is true and that the march of time has finally caught up with us. It has also been brought into very clear perspective by the arrival of the credit crunch and the recession. To roll together a couple of very apt quotations, “Only when the tide goes out can you see the rocks on the sea bed or who’s swimming naked”.
House prices have fallen, pension funds have been depleted, savings levels have dropped and jobs are disappearing. All at a time when we can expect to live longer and longer. The issue, therefore, does not relate solely to those who are in their prime but also to anyone who hopes at some stage to reach that position – it is an issue for us for all of our working lives – from the beginning to the end, and beyond.
Here now we provide an analysis of the latest official UK statistics which show just what is happening and will be happening.
The period from 1971 to 2007 has seen the UK population grow from 56 million to 61 million, that is overall quite slowly, but it is now forecast to continue increasing at the rate of about 2 million every 5 years reaching 71 million by 2031. However, these figures mask a range of changes taking place and issues arising within these figures.
The number of children required per woman to keep the population steady is 2.1 but the present rate, although rising from an all time low in 2001 of 1.6, is only 1.9 (2007), on its own suggesting a drop in population. The increase is coming from people living longer and from a net migration inwards. The increase from 2007 to 2031 is reckoned to be 47% due to net migration and 53% due to net natural change. As a result of the low birth rate we will see fewer young people entering the potential workforce pool.
Despite the current recession, which we have to assume we will come out of, the implications of this looking into the future are: skills shortages; initiatives to bring more women into/back into the workplace; increased numbers of workers from other countries; the need to retain older workers.
With lower birth rates and greater longevity we see that, within the total UK population figure there is a huge shift in demographics. In 1971 nearly 7 in 10 were under 50 and 3 in 10 were 50 plus. By 2031 the proportion of those over 50 will have reached nearly 4 in 10. Currently, slightly over one third of our sixty million people are over 50, that is in excess of 20 million.
At the end of 2008 it was headlined in some newspapers that we are now a nation of pensioners. The reason is that for the first time the numbers of those reaching state pension age (65 for men and 60 for women) had overtaken, just, those who are under 16, the percentages being about 19% of the population for each.
Hence, we are about to see the first of the measures coming in, starting in 2010, to try to redress the balance, particularly in respect of the demands on the public purse. Between 2010 and 2020 the state pension age for women will be increased until it reaches 65, the same as for men.
And so adjusting our numbers for this we can see that the 2007 figures for those 65 or over consequently drop to 16% compared with the 19% for those under 16. However, this is only a temporary respite and by 2021 we are back to equal percentages again. And from then on it becomes progressively more and more stretched. Only 20 years later, in 2041, almost one quarter of the population will be 65 or more, 17% will be under 16 and the working population, needed to support both ends of the spectrum, will constitute 59%.
Looking at this in the context of the “support ratio” as it relates to older people, that is financing their state pensions, health costs, welfare etc., we see that in 1971 there were 4.6 in the 16-64 arena for each person of 65 plus but this drops to 2.7 by 2031 and only 2.1 by 2081.
And so we see the second of the state pension measures being introduced. Between 2024 and 2046, in three phases, the state pension age for both men and women will be raised from 65 to 68. People will be expected to work longer and, obviously, the default retirement age will have to move by at least this, if not scrapped altogether, although this has yet to come.
And how does this longer working life fit into the context of our total lifespan?
There are 2 ways of estimating life expectancy used by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The one most quoted, “period” life expectancy, is arrived at by presuming that the existing mortality rates at a particular time will continue on into the future. However, the one which ONS believes gives a better picture of expected longevity builds in the anticipated changes (to date improvements) in mortality going on into the future and therefore to be experienced by the people (“cohort”) concerned.
For a man who reached 65 in 1981 the period life expectancy was to live to 78, and for a woman to live to 82. By 2006 this had increased to 82 for a man and 85 for a woman. However, if we take into consideration improving life expectancy a man can, in fact, expect to live to 86 and a woman to 88. And, on this basis, a man reaching 65 in 2030 may expect to live to 88 and a woman to 90. By 2056 the figures become 91 and 93 respectively. The issues are certainly not confined to only today’s over 50s.
With improving mortality a male born in 2006 has a life expectancy at birth of 88 and a female of 91. If they reach 50 years old they can then expect to live to 90 and 93 respectively. The chances at birth of reaching 65 are now 91% for a male and 94% for a female and will provide life expectancies of around 92 and 94 respectively.
And so the figures pile up. Greater chances of living to 75, 85 and 100 plus and a larger and larger proportion of the population made up of the elderly.
And what does this say for our retirement? Well, even with the state pension age rising to 68 for both men and women, we will see an anticipated retirement of around 22 years for men and 24 years for women. The notion that retirement is a few twilight years after a lifetime of slog is no longer relevant.
And 22 or 24 years is a long time to finance oneself without working, a long time to fill in an interesting, fulfilling and valued way, and a long time to stay physically and mentally healthy. It means people will work for, say, 40 to 50 years and then be without paid employment for 20 to 25 years. In itself this is a lot of years but it is also a large proportion of one’s life.
But length of life is not automatically associated with quality of life and, although life expectancy is increasing, a number of our final years will be in less than perfect health. The Office for National Statistics calculates two types of health expectations in this respect. Healthy Life Expectancy (HLE) defines healthy life as years in good or fairly good self-perceived general health. Disability-free Life Expectancy defines healthy life as years free from limiting longstanding illness. On average men can expect about 7 of their final years to be associated with a limiting longstanding illness and women about 9 years. There is still a lot to do.
It’s all very well increasing retirement ages but will we be fit enough to work and will the workplace provide an appropriate environment?
In terms of working longer we are already seeing increasing numbers of people working on beyond state pension age. Since 2000 the proportion of men of 65 and over who are working has increased from 7.3% to 10.6%. And for women of 60 and over the figures are 8.4% and 12.5 %. The latter figure will obviously increase as the state pension age increases for women start to kick in. Although these numbers are still fairly low in absolute terms they are growing rapidly as many people choose or feel the need to continue working longer.