Friday, 29 May 2009

Volunteers wanted for ageing research

EXPERTS at the University of Sheffield are looking for volunteers to aid its pioneering research into ageing.
The South Yorkshire Ageing Study was launched in 2005 to help explore the changes which occur with normal ageing and to help better understand memory loss, dementia and physical disability in older people. It is also running a clinical trial to investigate the

"Over the past 50 years medicine has advanced at an almost unrecognisably fast pace and as a result people are staying physically fitter well into old age. Unfortunately with increased age comes an increased risk of developing problems such as memory loss and concentration difficulties.''

Anyone aged 40 or older can take part in the study. There is no upper age limit but volunteers need to be 55 or older to take part in the clinical trial.

Testing takes place at Western Bank and the initial appointment takes around two hours. It involves a series of simple questions and checks on memory, balance, hearing, vision and blood pressure. Those taking part in the omega-3 trial will be provided with a year's supply of fish oil and asked to return for a re-test between six months and one year after the initial appointment.

All participants will be entered into a prize draw (first prize £100).

Contact 222 4707 or 0773 683 8606 or email

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Charity demands 3 things from G'ment

Age Concern and Help the Aged are calling on the G'ment to commit to 3 actions to help deal with the ageing tsunami that we keep writing about.

Scrap the National Default Retirement Age which forces people to retire at 65 and allow people to continue working as long as they want or need to while they are able to do a good job.

• Provide financial incentives to employers who take on 50 plus workers who have been out of work for more than 6 months.

• Provide a tailored package of support for unemployed over 50s‚ including specialised training for JobCentre Plus staff to recognise the specific needs of older people job searching and providing them with meaningful‚ holistic support.

As we keep saying - is anyone listening out there?

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Employment figures

The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics confirm what we have been hearing from other Western countries, namely, that the current recession is hitting younger people more so than older people. Employment is up overall in the last year by 0.1% for the fifty pluses to SRA, and up 3.6% for those over SRA. The biggest increase is from women in employment. For the over 50's it was 0.2% and for post SRA 5.8%. For men it was a fall of 0.1% for the 50+'s and 0% for post SRA. The 18-24 shows a decrease of 4.6%. This is not to take away from the concern currently being reported by Age Concern and Help the Aged by older people worrying, with much justification, about future employment prospects of any kind. This simply means that the predicted impact of the recession on older workers has not been anywhere near so dramatic as some have predicted.

The World Won't Be Aging Gracefully. Just the Opposite

This is the title of a fascinating article in the Washington Post which compares countries around the world according to the impact of the coming ageing tsunami. The US comes out looking to have the fewest problems in the future but as for Western Europe, Russia, Japan and China - well - have a look and ponder.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Over-55s lifting share of jobs in Oz

An article in the Australian quotes some new research by Monash University which has found ageing workers are finding more jobs, while young people are being laid off. In fact people aged over 55 are the only ones in the labour market increasing their rates of employment, even after the economic downturn.

This is of particular interest in Australia which has announced an increase in the state pension age to 67 by 2023. The researchers say that their fin
dings run counter to the argument that it was older workers who were facing the chop in the downturn, and destroyed the argument that extending the pension age to 67 would force people on to the dole.

it is difficult to see how our own G'ment can go on ignoring this issue and their plans to increase pensionable age to 68 by 2038 is now looking totally unrealistic with the huge deficit we have. Is anyone out there or even thinking about this? Just a bit too preoccupied in keeping their own seats at the moment....

Friday, 22 May 2009

Economic madness

2 contrasting stories today. The Times has a piece about the pioneering work of George Magnus, who is joining the growing numbers of us in making the point that the demographic time bomb that is with us is as great a natural disaster as climate change in the short term.

"Baby-boomers hitting retirement may not sound exciting next to the threat of countries disappearing into the ocean or drought wiping out food crops, but the threat is real and the results could be expensive. Mr Magnus puts this into context by explaining that the cost of cleaning up the banking crisis will be up to 25 per cent of GDP, but that the cost of the UK’s ageing population – the next four decades of pensions, healthcare, disability benefits and residential care – will cost 330 per cent of GDP." “The richest source of participation in this country is people aged over 55,” Mr Magnus, 60, said. “We have to change the nature of work and the workplace to allow people to work longer.” He states that a retirement age of 65 is a total nonsense. Our economy cannot support an increasing number of people living 20 unproductive years after that.

Yet on the other hand, a recent survey from Age Concern and Help the Aged shows that 1 in 7 HR managers plans to use the default retirement age to help cut jobs. Why is this craziness occuring? Because yet again we have no leadership on this issue from this current G'ment.

Make the most of every opportunity

We often run into people who bemoan the limited years that they have left. Well, we all have limited time and it is what you do with it that counts. Play this video to see how important this principle is at any age. The young lad on it almost certainly will not live to our ages as he has a life-threatening illness and was granted his single greatest wish by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. In our opinion, he shows us all what it really means to “own the moment.” I came across this on an excellent careers site which although American is certainly worth looking at if career change is an issue for you.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Boomers go back to basics

New research from Age Concern and Help the Aged shows that seven in ten older people are resorting to thrifty skills picked up during the war and post-war years to help them save money and make resources go further during the recession.

Trying to fend off the blows of the economic downturn‚ 70 per cent of people over 50s say they are getting back to trusted money-saving strategies learnt during previously tough times or handed-down from their parents. The survey shows:

  • 91 per cent of people over the age of 50 say they budget carefully and spend within their means
  • 87 per cent cook from scratch rather than buying ready-made meals
  • 71 per cent reuse leftover food
  • 54 per cent shop for food in the reduced section or buy reduced food at the end of the day
  • 50 per cent sew or mend items for themselves or others
  • 29 per cent grow their own vegetables.

The research also shows nine in ten older people believe the ‘make do and mend’ mentality could help younger generations weather today’s recession. Younger people share the same belief with 84 per cent of people aged 18-24 thinking they could benefit from skills handed down from tough war and post-war years.

Does looking after parents drive you to drink?

Yes - according to a report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which warns that the amount of alcohol consumed by those between ages 45 and 64 has doubled in less than 15 years.

The difficulties faced by the sandwich generation that may help to cause this increase, include caring for elderly parents as well as children leaving home to go to university and loneliness, are leading them to reach for the bottle, it claims.

While much of the G'ments attempts to curb problem drinking has been directed at the young, alcohol experts are now calling for more attention to be paid to middle-aged and older people regularly exceeding the Government's recommended alcohol limits.

The average number of alcoholic units drunk by 45 to 64-year-olds rose from 5.3 units a week, or two and half standard 175 ml glasses of wine, to 9.8 units, or almost five glasses, between 1992 and 2006, the report found.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Does work drive you demented or is it the opposite?

British scientists have found a significant link between later retirement age and later onset of dementia in men. The research is published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

This result came from an analysis of 382 men with probable Alzheimer's by scientists from the Institute of Psychiatry and Cardiff University. Information based on education and employment was used to determine the effects of early life education, mid life employment and later life retirement on the age of onset of dementia.

Sounds like yet another good reason to keep working in some capacity or another!

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Moving home on retirement?

In England, 43% of over-50s plan to move away when they retire.

According to a new survey of nearly 14,000 people in the UK commissioned by Saga, the happiest older people are those who are living in the country already, and the people who aren't think they would be happier if they were. The likelihood that large numbers of older people will move to retirement hotspots has profound implications for Britain as it manages the impending boom in its ageing population. One in 10 people, regardless of where they lived themselves, picked Devon as the best county for retired people to live. Scotland also appears very popular.

We continually advise people to be very wary of making these moves. The danger is that you might lose your main support groups, activities, social pastimes and even your health security blanket as you have to find new doctors, etc. We know of people who have moved to be near their children and grandchildren which sometimes works out well and support can be offered to busy parents. We also know people who came to resent being taken for granted and/or realised that suddenly they did not have ready access to their old friends. Before deciding to do this sit down and make a list of all of the pluses and minuses that you can think of. Check the results alongside your life values - if you have done the exercise in our book. If you are moving to be near family then have a full discussion about expectations from both sides. Unless you happen to be an MP of course and then you can have 2 homes so no problem!

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Lateral thinking.........?

In the midst of the political meltdown caused by the fury over MPs' abuse of expenses, some people are still seeing the politicians take, on 'fixing the recession' that happened on-their-watch, as hardly creative or guaranteed to work. Fortunately, there are many more creative minds than ever enter the Houses of Westminster. Here was one suggestion that circululated recently, I suspect only half-jokingly!

'Dear Mr. Darling, Please find below my suggestion for fixing Britain's economy. Instead of giving billions of pounds to banks that will squander the money on lavish parties and unearned bonuses, use the following plan.
You can call it the Patriotic Retirement Plan:
There are about 20 million people over 50 in the work force. - Pay them £1 million apiece severance for early retirement with the following stipulations:
1) They MUST retire. Result - 20 million job openings - Unemployment fixed.
2) They MUST buy a new British CAR. Result - 20 million cars ordered - Auto Industry fixed.
3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage - Result - Housing Crisis fixed.
4) They must send their kids to school / college /university - Result - Crime rate fixed
5) Buy £50 of alcohol / tobacco a week there's your money back in duty / tax etc
It can't get any easier than that!
P.S. If more money is needed, have all members of parliament pay back their falsely claimed expenses and second home allowances If you think this would work, please forward to everyone you know. If not, please disregard.'

The writer might well have added, 'it could work wonders in also solving some of the looming pension crises!'
This would be an interesting challenge for us over-50s. If such an off-the-wall solution were ever offered (and our political leaders would never be so creative) how many of us would be prepared to retire?
More importantly, how many of us would be able to design a lengthy retirement in in which we can achieve quality of life, purpose and meaning? How many of us could find opportunities, outside of paid work, in which to use our skills and talents, contributing to causes we believe in? How many of us would take that chance to fulfil those long-held ambitions we have never had time for, or engage with the excitement of lifelong learning, just for the joy of continuing to renew ourselves? How many of us could design a 'portfolio retirement' in which we piece together a jigsaw of involvements which would result in us saying, 'I don't know how I ever found time to work?'
We should of course be already planning how to have such a life. Not because the scheme above will ever happen, but because always having an alternative, even when in work, is our security!
'The Rainbow Years' invites reflection on some of these challenges!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

How to pay for the crisis

This is the title of a paper by Ray Barrell, Ian Hurst and Simon Kirby from the NIESR examining the different ways of closing the gaping hole in the public finances. What I found fascinating was that they concluded that a very effective strategy would be to get people to stay longer in paid work. Each year of additional employment would cut the budget deficit by 1% of GDP after 10 years and in time reduce government debt by 20% of GDP. Boosting average working lives by 3 years would cut the deficit by 3% and the government debt by 60% of GDP. And yet this government is still allowing companies to throw people out at 65.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Silver Surfers' Day is on May 15th

This year it's bigger and better than ever with hundreds of free or nearly-free IT taster events all over the UK, in venues as diverse as a Sainsbury's supermarket in Folkestone and a Community Centre in the Scilly Isles. Many will be on Friday May 15th but others will be on other days, up until end of May.

So if you're over 50 years old and still unsure about computers then this is a great chance to just give it a go!

Silver Surfers' Day is run by Digital Unite, who've been getting older people online for thirteen years.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

How old is 'old'?

When are you actually old? A recent survey in Ireland found that eight out of 10 maintained that they would regard old age as starting at 80. One-fifth said old age began at 65. Interestingly, the people in that latter group were 23 per cent more likely to be male than female.

A significant proportion of respondents in the survey, conducted by Ask Chili for the website, who are still at work see the recession affecting their retirement date, with almost half (47 per cent) saying they expect to postpone their retirement due to the recession. Just over half of those who are already retired believe their income will fall over the next five years. Of these, half expect a fall of up to 25 per cent.

In the survey, 59 per cent believed that 50-somethings are down-ageing (engaging in activities which are traditionally seen as pursuits of younger people) by taking exotic holidays, buying sports cars or motorbikes, taking gap years abroad and so on.

Today’s over-55s are definitely interested in how they look. Putting effort into one’s appearance, they agreed, is a sign of continuing to engage with the world and maintaining a sense of dignity and self respect.

A huge 98 per cent agree that the internet is “fantastic – it has revolutionised my life”. They use the internet primarily for shopping and staying in touch with family.

Sex and relationships remain especially important to the over-55s. Just under half have suffered a loss of libido. Nine out of 10 believe sex is part of a healthy relationship. Only 10 per cent have ever used prescribed drugs to increase their sex drive.

Among those who live on their own, just over half are hoping to meet a new partner. Of these, one in five use online dating while others rely on more traditional methods such as social contact and meeting people through friends.

Equality Bill could target 'silver savers'

The government's Equality Bill could outlaw savings accounts aimed at over 50s, the Building Societies Association (BSA) has warned.

The bill, due to have its second reading in the Commons on Monday, could prevent banks and building societies from offering savings accounts aimed specifically for older customers as it could be considered age discrimination.

But this would be the worst possible time to scrap these products, which often offer higher interest rates than other accounts, the BSA said.

Adrian Coles, director-general of the BSA, said: "It concerns us that this legislation could result in the loss of an account that meets the important social need of older savers.

"Whilst we support efforts to outlaw unjustifiable age discrimination, we believe these accounts - like children's accounts - have a legitimate role to play."

The BSA added the government had recently recognised the over 50s group needs help as savings rates fall, by increasing the ISA limit for those over 50 ahead of the rest of the population.

"We would like assurance that the future of the silver saver account will not become uncertain and that this type of product be exempted from the legislation," Mr Coles added.

The accounts for 'silver savers' often advertise higher interest rates and provide a straightforward service with a regular income, the BSA said.

Friday, 8 May 2009

I'm too old to do that!

Do you get as fed up as we do in continually running into people who say this? Sometimes they are only 50. It is tragic seeing people limit themselves because they have bought into stereotyping from a different age. We need to question people who say this at any opportunity and also look for real life examples of people who clearly go counter to this restriction. As we come across them we will report them here and ask you to send us details of anyone you know who would never say this and instead does something remarkable. Like Margaret Jones, of Malmesbury, a 90-year-old former midwife from Wiltshire who had to step in to deliver her great-granddaughter because the duty midwife was not able to arrive in time. She had ceased to be a midwife 50 years ago.

Interviewed afterwards she said : "I did not think I would get down because I have two artificial hips. When I got home after, I had a strong cup of tea and put some whisky in it."

Her grandaughter commented, "My mum first called my gran just to have a look while I was waiting for the hospital midwife."

Mrs Jones ended up delivering 7lb 7oz Carys 20 minutes before the midwife arrived.

"I am close with my gran," said her grandaughter. "It felt incredible to have her there, she is magical."

I'm too old to do that...............

Voices of older people

Nesta are launching a new initiative as part of their Age Unlimited work. This video is an introduction to what older people feel about the ageing process and their attitudes to retirement in the UK.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Do we really keep on rowing with our children?

A new study from Michigan University has found that even when children hit middle-age and become parents themselves, they are still keen to row with their mum and dad.

And they claim that arguments are most heated between mothers and daughters, with the same subject coming up again and again - children's anger at their parents trying to run their lives.

The researchers asked nearly 500 sets of parents and their adult children, aged 22 and above, to write down conversations, problems in the past and perceived differences in their relationship.

They found teenagers became angry at being told how to dress, while older children-resented advice on how to bring up their offspring or being quizzed about their finances.

Kira Birditt, who led the study, which is due to be published in the journal Psychology and Ageing, said: 'The parent-child relationship is one of the longest lasting social ties humans establish.

'This tie is often highly positive and supportive but it also commonly includes feelings of irritation, tension and ambivalence.

'It may be that children feel their mothers make more demands for closeness or they are generally more intrusive than fathers.'

However, the study also found that both parties made an effort to understand each other's point of view as they got older.

I am sure we are all relieved to hear that!

Friday, 1 May 2009

Gratitude: the way to tranquility and better health?

One of the joys of blogging is that you can be occasionally self indulgent. So I am choosing to reproduce an entry from my daughters website where of course she gives a rave review to her Dad's book. She is a very successful acupuncturist in Leeds and was clearly stimulated by what we had to say in the book about gratitude. She also found this wonderful youtube clip showing the 'gratitude dance'. I defy you not to watch this without joining in.