Old age is THE human challenge of this century!

2016-07-06 11:05

A letter to Employers.

At the end of the 2nd World War there was a huge spike in the birth rate around the world. The children of that spike have been called the Baby-Boomers; and those born in 1946 reached retirement age (65) in 2011.

By 2025, that is, in 9 years time, there will be 200 000 000 of us in retirement in the Western World. And most of us who retired in 2011 will still be alive until 2035 and beyond.

This creates a couple of problems.

  • In some countries the old already outnumber the young. This will put considerable financial pressure on the 35 to 50 year olds working in your company as their taxes will have to fund more “elderly friendly” transport systems, care facilities, living spaces and pension schemes.
  • Less than 10% of retirees have sufficient funds to see them through a retirement that could last 25 years. The rest are going to have to create a new source of income or will have to rely on their children for financial support. Those children are the 35 to 50 year olds working in your company and they are already under financial pressure supporting their own children.
  • Medical Schemes will be under severe financial pressure as more and more people retire and live into their 80s and 90s. Their health now, will determine their health then, and their escalating costs will have to be bourne by the 35 to 50 year olds working in your company.
  • Companies will be under pressure as skilled, experienced employees retire and walk out the door taking their expertise with them. The gap they leave, will have to be filled by the 35 to 50 year olds working in your company – at a time when they should be mentoring the young employees coming into the company. Creating an expertise spiral into oblivion?
  • Retirement planning is almost exclusively about the money. There is little or no planning around creating purpose in old age, getting old and frail, becoming a burden (or not), maintaining relationships, staying physically healthy and mentally alert. Most Employers believe that their older employee’s retirement planning isn’t their responsibility – it may not be – but it will become the responsibility of the 35 to 50 year olds working in your company.
  • Company (Closed) Medical Schemes, because of their fewer members, have to manage a very fine balance between the relatively low costs incurred by healthy young members and the relatively high costs incurred by unhealthy old members. The less healthy those older members are, the greater the fees and the fewer the benefits that the 35 to 50 year olds working in your company are going to incur.

There is no easy solution to these issues, but there is something that Employers can do. They can make retirement and old-age planning an integral part of their employee development policy. But let’s not call it Retirement Planning – let’s call it Life Planning or something similar.

Most of us won’t do anything until 5 minutes to midnight – unless the encouragement to prepare starts now. It is in the interests of all employers to provide that encouragement. And even if your company has no employees coming up for retirement, the 35 to 50 year olds working in your company have parents who will be.

Alan Maguire is a Retirement Coach and creator of The Elders Journey an on-line tool to help people prepare for a life of purpose and fulfilment in retirement and old age. He can be contacted at alan@theeldersjourney.com

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