Monday, 27 October 2008

The Empty Nest - we wish!

Long before the credit crunch adult children began to move back to live with their parents. The trend has been noticed since 2006 when 58% of men and 39% of women aged between 20-24 in England lived with their parents. This is an increase of 8% since 1991. Research this year shows that 1 in 5 adults now live with grown up children and a third of parents expect that their kids will live them past the age of 21.

In some households up to 4 generations are sharing the same property! One reason is the ever increasing amount of student debt, then the problem of getting on the property ladder, sometimes unemployment and sometimes it is just more comfortable emotionally as well as financially to be just looked after!

Kids - don't you just love 'em! What do you think?

Friday, 24 October 2008

George Carlin's Views on Ageing

My daughter just send me George Carlin's Views on Ageing. Its friday night so enjoy! Do you realize that the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we're kids? If you're less than 10 years old, you're so excited about aging that you think in fractions. 'How old are you?' 'I'm four and a half!' You're never thirty-six and a half. You're four and a half, going on five! That's the key You get into your teens, now they can't hold you back. You jump to the next number, or even a few ahead. 'How old are you?' 'I'm gonna be 16!' You could be 13, but hey, you're gonna be 16! And then the greatest day of your life ! You become 21. Even the words sound like a ceremony. YOU BECOME 21. YESSSS!!! But then you turn 30. Oooohh, what happened there? Makes you sound like bad milk! He TURNED; we had to throw him out. There's no fun now, you're Just a sour-dumpling. What's wrong? What's changed? You BECOME 21, you TURN 30, then you're PUSHING 40. Whoa! Put on the brakes, it's all slipping away. Before you know it, you REACH 50 and your dreams are gone. But wait!!! You MAKE it to 60. You didn't think you would! So you BECOME 21, TURN 30, PUSH 40, REACH 50 and MAKE it to 60. You've built up so much speed that you HIT 70! After that it's a day-by-day thing; you HIT Wednesday! You get into your 80's and every day is a complete cycle; you HIT lunch; you TURN 4:30; you REACH bedtime. And it doesn't end there. Into the 90s, you start going backwards; 'I Was JUST 92.' Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a little kid again. 'I'm 100 and a half!'

First-time blog - Mike Scally

I liked the irony that after weeks of doubt about involvement with blogging (would it intrude into my happy retirement?) that on the the day I thought 'yes', the To-day programme carried an item 'Is blogging over?'. The suggestion was that blogging is so '2004' that it is now passe! So, here I am arriving when it is all over. The today contributors were urging us all to become 'tweeters' because, they said, blogs have been taken over by professionals promoting their wares, who were producing a 'tsunami of paid bilge' and most blogs were 'average and gutter-bound'. Hearing this I was even more hesitant about getting involved and wondered whether my image with my grandchildren would be best enhanced by my 'tweeting'. This inclination soon passed when one of the contributors (challenged by techno-cynic John Humphreys) claimed she had 500 'friends' that she 'tweeted' with regularly and was able to tell them when her cat was ill and what her plans were each day. She also admitted that she and the other contributor had been sitting together in the same room waiting for their To-day slot and had spent the time 'tweeting' to each other!! I decided it was a generational thing and decided to join the 'oldies' on this blog. So, I am now signed up and hope to become interesting before very long - everything tends to take longer these days!

Thursday, 23 October 2008

How the 50+'s rely on the Internet

New research from Alliance & Leicester Current Accounts has revealed the extent to which the over 50s rely on the internet to help organise different areas of their lives, from their finances through to their love life.

These days, nearly three fifths (58%) of over 50s use the ‘net' to manage their finances, a further two in five (41%) book their holidays online, and almost one in five (18%) regularly log on to social networking websites such as Facebook and Friends Reunited.

With so much use of the internet, it is not surprising that online security is important to the over 50s. While six in ten (59%) of the over 50s say they are happy to buy products online, more than a half (51%) say they need to be sure a site is safe and secure before buying anything, and more than a quarter (27%) will only shop online at UK websites.

It seems that location matters too when it comes to using the internet. While two thirds (64%) feel confident using online banking in the safety of their own home, only 5% feel safe checking their bank balance at work, and only 2% would risk logging-on to their online banking at a shared or public computer, such as a library or internet cafe.

The over 70s have the least confidence to carry out their banking online, with almost one in three (31%) saying they have ‘no confidence at all' banking online, compared with only one fifth (21%) of those aged 50-59. Those over 70 are also more wary of giving their bank details online and more than a third (35%) will only pay for items online with a credit card, compared with just (27%) of those aged 50-59.

Over 50s use of the internet: men v women

There seems to be a divide between the sexes when it comes to having confidence in online banking. Seven out of ten (70%) of men over 50 feel confident banking online at home, compared to only 59% women. Almost one third (30%) of women believe online banking is unsafe and only 29% of women over 50 are happy to input their debit card details when buying online.

However, men over 50 are more conscientious about internet security than women, with almost two thirds (63%) of men claiming to always ensure their security software is up-to-date, with just 56% of women doing the same.

The Joys of Being a Grandparent - I think?

In our book we talk a lot about the grandparent role and the statistics are quite enlightening:
  • in the UK 90% of people over 65 are grandparents
  • 25% of children are regularly looked after by grandparents
  • 60% of childcare other than by parents is done by grandparents saving £4 billion a year assuming minimum wage payments
  • 44% spend 16 hours a month providing childcare
  • 92% of them get no payment
But we do it because we love them don't we! And we don't feel exploited do we? Just how much time should parents expect grandparents to give? Should parents pay for some of this help? If they were members of slivers of time then they certainly would get paid. Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall's book, The Good Granny Companion, tackles a number of these issues in a simple, forthright and commonsensical way. Don't take your grandparent role for granted and don't let your children take you for granted. Any views out there?

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Rolls Royce loses landmark age discrimination case

The Times reports today that Unite, Britain’s biggest union, today won what it hailed as a landmark ruling in one of the first cases on age discrimination to be considered by the courts.

A judge in the High Court in London ruled in favour of Unite in a legal dispute with Rolls-Royce over whether long service should be taken into account when selecting workers for redundancy.

The union hailed the ruling as setting a precedent for protecting older workers from redundancy.

What I found particularly sad about this were some of the comments that appeared online following publication. I reproduce 2 to illustrate what we are up against:

'Last in, first out' policies are fairer than discriminating against older workers in my opinion. I am 18, you can't call me biased! It's just they are somewhat less attractive to new employers as the older you get, the harder it is to learn new information, so they viewed as harder to train!"

'So the old timers have the best pensions and the most employment protection. The young, well they just have to pay the taxes to support the old people whilst not being able to afford to buy a house or save for a pension and now fired before the old! Not a long run solution is it?'

These illustrate what could be growing resentment from younger generations to what they see as onerous commitments and also the stereotyping that still exists, viz we are harder to train as we don't learn so easily. When our book is published next month look at the studies that we quote that categorically refute this.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Boommers Still Partying

The UK has no intention of giving up its partying habits, with 80 per cent of party-goers agreeing that you don't need a champagne budget to throw a good party, according to a new report from - the online service from Yellow Pages.In fact the biggest spending party guests are the 55-60 year old age group, spending on average GBP20 more.

Delightfully the report calls us the Older Age Party-goers (OAPs).

Friday, 17 October 2008

Surfing the Internet Boosts Aging Brains

New research suggests that the simple act of Googling may be good for your brain health.

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, have shown that searching the Internet triggers key centers in the brain that control decision-making and complex reasoning. The findings suggest that searching the Web helps to stimulate and may even improve brain function.

The U.C.L.A. researchers studied 24 healthy people between the ages of 55 and 76. Half of the study participants had experience searching the Internet, whereas the other half had no experience. Participants performed Web searches and book-reading tasks while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging scans, which measure the level of cerebral blood flow.

While all participants demonstrated the same brain activity during the book-reading task, the Web-savvy group also registered activity in areas of the brain that control decision-making and complex reasoning, the researchers said.

“Our most striking finding was that Internet searching appears to engage a greater extent of neural circuitry that is not activated during reading — but only in those with prior Internet experience,” said principal investigator Dr. Gary Small, director of U.C.L.A.’s Memory and Aging Research Center, in a press release.

“The study results are encouraging that emerging computerized technologies may have physiological effects and potential benefits for middle-aged and older adults,” Dr. Small said. “Internet searching engages complicated brain activity, which may help exercise and improve brain function.”

During Web searching, the Web-savvy volunteers showed a twofold increase in brain activation when compared with those who had little Internet experience. The tiniest measurable unit of brain activity registered by the functional M.R.I. is called a voxel. During Internet searching, those with prior Web experience sparked 21,782 voxels, compared with only 8,646 voxels for those with less experience.

The researchers noted that compared with reading, the Internet’s wealth of choices requires that people make decisions about what to click on, an activity that engages important cognitive circuits in the brain. Dr. Small said the minimal brain activation shown by the less experienced Internet users may be due to the fact that it was a new experience, and the Web users weren’t yet adept at clicking around and making choices. He said that with more experience, the novice Web users may eventually demonstrate the same level of brain activity as the more computer-savvy participants.

“A simple, everyday task like searching the Web appears to enhance brain circuitry in older adults, demonstrating that our brains are sensitive and can continue to learn as we grow older,” Dr. Small said.

Dr. Small is the author of a new book, “iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind.

So keep Googling to stay mentally alert.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

UK employers win international award for best practice around workers over 50

Four UK employers are among ten international companies to win an award for best practice in recruiting, developing and retaining workers over 50.

The AARP International Innovative Employer Awards are designed by AARP, a US-based non-profit organisation representing 40 million members aged 50 and over, and supported by TAEN, The Age and Employment Network. The awards promote best practice from employers around the world, focusing global attention on how the skills and talents of older workers are being utilised.

A number of factors were considered when selecting this year's winners from the pool of international companies that applied, including recruiting practices; workplace culture; lifelong learning and education; job training opportunities; alternative work options such as flexible scheduling, job sharing and flexible retirement.

Of the ten winners, the four UK organisations to receive the award were:

  • Agewell - Sandwell Primary Care Trust
  • BT Group plc
  • Centrica plc
  • Domestic & General Group Limited

Sally Ward, People and Policy Manager, BT Group, said:

"Creating a workplace where people of all ages are encouraged to remain actively employed is vital to attracting and retaining the most talented people, and therefore providing the best possible service to our customers."

Mike O'Brien, Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions, commented:

"I am delighted to see four UK businesses receiving this award. Good employers are alive to the value of older workers, spotting a growing pool of talent that many other businesses still miss out on. For the employee the benefits are obvious. The traditional 'one size fits all' approach to retirement does not suit everyone so rather than a sudden stop, they can choose to step down gradually from work. More employers need to respond to this trend and in turn, their businesses will benefit from the experience, loyalty and skills older workers can bring."

AARP Innovative Employer Award summaries

Agewell - Sandwell Primary Care Trust

  • Midlife Future Planning programme helps employees consider changes faced in later life
  • Flexible work arrangements giving employees a work/life balance
  • No mandatory retirement age

BT Group

  • Achieving Balance portfolio of flexible working arrangements help employees make transition from full-time employment to retirement
  • Career Life planning Tool assists employees in developing careers at every stage


  • Age action group delivering an ageing workforce action plan
  • Age awareness e-learning package for managers and employees
  • Flexible work policies and carers network

Domestic & General Group

  • Recruitment strategies to attract and retain older workers
  • Recruitment and assessment materials tailored to resonate with various generations
  • Telephone interviewing used in first stage of hiring process to avoid age-bias
  • Employees as Age Ambassadors representing the company at recruitment fairs

From the Age Positive website

Work is Good For Your Health

Mike and I write about this topic in The Rainbow Years but we now have even more evidence to make the point that staying in paid work of some kind keeps you healthier. An Australian Bureau of Statistics report published in August 2008 found that workers aged between 45 and 74 were less likely to have a chronic health condition, including obesity, than people who had retired. They have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes and arthritis. Cardiovascular disease and arthritis each affect about 25% of older workers whereas 50% of those who do not have paid work are affected. So now you know!

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Boomers learn from Generation Y

Baby boomers are starting to learn from Generation Y's approach to workplace training...

Senior execs are starting to employ GenY media like online video, social networking sites and even eBooks, according to a new report on leadership training from the Chartered Management Institute.

In the past, baby boomers have been considered a lot more technophobic than Generation Y's. We were supposed to be reluctant to embrace new technologies, and slow to use them effectively. But it seems that times are changing: 51% said they’d used online video (up from 21% a year ago), 34% have got involved with social networking sites (up from 12% last year), and about a quarter had made use of eBooks or discussion forums. This is a big leap over the course of a year – it could just be the inevitable march of progress, but it might also mean that they’re looking for efficiencies at a time when cash is tight.

50 and Romantic

Older couples are proving more romantic than those in their 20s with new figures showing that three out of four are planning four or more city breaks together this year.

A study by hotel chain Holiday Inn found that the over 50s are increasingly spending time away from home with their partners.

Spokesperson for the firm Chris Hale said: "By 50, most people have paid off their mortgage, their kids have left home and all of a sudden they have enormous freedoms they haven't enjoyed for years.

''While people in their 30s and 40s are tied down with debts and family life, the over-50s are packing their bags and heading off for romantic weekends, with great big grins on their faces."

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Civil Service Abandons Mandatory Retirement

As supporters of the move to abandon mandatory retirement we were delighted to discover that the Civil Service announced plans to remove it across all the Civil Service by 2010.

A number of Government departments have already introduced a no mandatory retirement age policy. In July of this year, Permanent Secretaries agreed to work together to introduce across the remaining Civil Service a no mandatory retirement age policy for staff below the Senior Civil Service by March 2010. Separate work is being undertaken by the Cabinet Office to review the potential for extending this change to the Senior Civil Service (SCS).

Since 2006 a number of departments, employing approximately 50 per cent of Civil Servants, have already introduced a no mandatory retirement age policy – these include Department for Work and Pensions, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In July, Permanent Secretaries agreed to work together to introduce a no mandatory retirement age policy for staff below the SCS in the remaining departments.

A spokesperson from the MOD's Director General Civilian Personnel Pensions team explained what today's announcement means to staff who may be planning to retire:

"I am proud that the Civil Service values all colleagues, regardless of age, and recognises that we must build on the skills and experience of an increasingly diverse workforce so that we can continue to improve the delivery of public services for everyone in society."

They make it very clear that introducing this will not affect the age at which people can take their full pension benefits but it will give them greater choice as to when they choose to retire.

The news was deliberately announced to coincide with Older Peoples Day on October 1.

Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell added:

"Older People's Day recognises the important contribution that older workers make in the work place. Like any successful organisation, we need people who have knowledge and experience in key areas, as well as those with fresh ideas to challenge traditional methods. I am proud that the Civil Service values all colleagues, regardless of age, and recognises that we must build on the skills and experience of an increasingly diverse workforce so that we can continue to improve the delivery of public services for everyone in society.

"The new commitment by all departments to a no mandatory retirement age policy across the Civil Service by 2010, for those below the Senior Civil Service, is an important change to our workforce policy. It is a practical demonstration of our commitment to providing greater flexibility for our people."

Catharine Pusey, Director of The Employers Forum on Age comments, “We welcome the civil service’s decision to remove the unfair and discriminatory practice of being able to insist their employees retire at 65 and hope that it helps focus the Government’s mind ahead of the result of the Heyday challenge". This refers to the case brought by Age Concern to the Hague to abandon mandatory retirement totally in the UK.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Tesco Leads the Way

reports that the number of over-50s staff has reached a record level. One in five Tesco employees are now aged over 50. There has been a 154% rise in the number of over-50s employed in its UK stores compared with 10 years ago, bringing the current total to 54,545. Some of this growth in the older workforce has been down to an increase in the retailer's overall staff numbers, but personnel manager Linda Avis also credits Tesco's pro-older people policies.

These include Tesco enabling employees to work and be developed no matter how old they are - the oldest employee currently working within a store is 80-years-old. The company also scrapped the fixed retirement age (currently the default retirement age is 65).

Working within the UK resourcing team, Avis said: "We are now seeing that our over-50 workforce is not only formed of employees who have worked their way through the ranks within Tesco, but increasingly, those who have decided to join Tesco later in life. Many of these new recruits have decided they would like a new challenge and have chosen to follow a new and exciting career path at the age of 50 or over."

Of the 1,843 people currently on Tesco's internal development programme, 366 (20%) are over 50. And more than 10% of Tesco's store manager positions are filled by the over-50s, who also account for 14% of its senior team and 10% of its line managers.

Avis added that employing the over-50s has reaped its UK stores huge benefits.

"Staff turnover is at its lowest point within the over-50 age bracket, especially the 50- to 59-year-olds," she said. "We benefit from the loyalty and reliability that this age group provides and we, therefore, endeavour to continue to tackle the outdated stereotypes about the ageing population and hope that the government will go some way to highlight the many opportunities that inter-generational working can provide."

We are collecting data on the companies that recognise the value of retaining, recruiting and developing older employees so if you know of one please let us know.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

The Rainbow Years: The Pluses of Being 50 Plus

At the age of 65 I have decided that it is about time that I began blogging on my own. Mike Scally and I have a new book being published by Middlesex University Press at the end of November called, not surprisingly, The Rainbow Years: The Pluses of Being 50+.

This is accompanied by a website We were the subject matter experts for this site which was launched by learndirect earlier this year and is aimed at all the areas of mature living that we discuss in the book. The site is freely available.

One of the frustrations of publishing a book is that from the moment it is printed it is out of date, and these days faster than ever, so I have decided to use this blog to update people interested in this topic with the latest news, stats, viewpoints and even gossip relevant to this age group.

We really are a generation unique in human history - healthier, wealthier, happier, fitter, more long living than any previous generation.

Watch this space as we will endeavour to prove this from here on.