Thursday, 30 April 2009

More MP's against compulsory retirement

Have a look at Mark Easton's blog today as he reports on a new development at Westminster on this emotive issue.

The Work and Pensions select committee report published today demands that compulsory retirement be scrapped:

"We recommend that the Government removes regulation 30, which permits employers to continue to compulsorily retire employees at the age of 65. This regulation contradicts the Government's wider social policy and labour market objectives to raise the average retirement age and allow people to continue to work and save for their retirement."

Mark reports that there was some disappointment that this week's Equality Bill did not propose an end to mandatory retirement on the grounds that it self-evidently discriminates against workers purely on the grounds of age.

How much longer are we going to have to wait? Especially when you look at the demographics which Mark also reports.

Charities launch age-friendly logo

Age Concern and Help the Aged have launched an Age OK logo, which will appear on "age friendly" products and services.

The launch follows the publication of research carried out by the charities, which revealed that one in five people aged over 60 said that difficult to open packaging would stop them purchasing a product.

Of those surveyed, half said they felt UK businesses were "youth obsessed".

According to the charities, companies that fail to make their packaging "age-friendly" could be losing out on the estimated £250bn spent by older people every year.

Businesses wishing to apply for the standard will first have to become a member of the engage network at a cost of £1,000, before completing a £1,500 application for each product or service.

An audit committee will then assess the application and make a recommendation to the approval committee. The complete process should take six months in total.

Sky will be the first company to feature the logo on its remote control packaging, after it was involved in trialling the scheme.

The charities also plan to launch a organisational accreditation in 2010.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

‘Lose it, or lose it!’

A report from Harvard Medical School says;
'Over the past several years, researchers have slowly accumulated evidence linking excess weight to dementia. But it may not be overall weight that matters most, but rather where it sits on the body. A study published in 2008 indicated that it’s fat tissue in the abdominal cavity — the stuff that expands our waistlines — that’s most strongly associated with dementia.
If getting fat translates into a higher risk of developing dementia, that might add some fresh motivation to weight-control efforts. “People aren’t as scared of cardiovascular disease as they are of losing their minds,” points out Rachel A. Whitmer, an epidemiologist for Kaiser Permanente who has conducted several of the important studies on weight and dementia. Whitmer says it’s time we started paying attention to belly size as a bona fide health indicator, like cholesterol levels and blood pressure readings, not just a source of aesthetic anguish or wardrobe malfunction'.
For more information about achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, see the Harvard Special Health Report, Healthy Solutions to Lose Weight and Keep it Off, at

Monday, 27 April 2009

Ageist youths more likely to have heart probs in old age

An extraordinary longitudinal study has identified a link between people's belief in age stereotypes when they're younger and their likelihood of suffering a cardiovascular illness when they get older. Becca Levy and colleagues used data collected from 1968 onwards from 386 people regarding their belief in age stereotypes. The participants, who were aged 36.5 years on average when first approached, had stated their agreement with views like "old people are helpless". Levy's team then looked to see which participants had suffered a cardiovascular illness such as heart attack or stroke between 1968 and 2007. There were 89 such cardiovascular events in total. Amazingly, participants who earlier held negative views about older people were subsequently more likely to suffer a cardiovascular illness over the next 38 years, than were the participants who had held more positive views about ageing. For example, 30 years after the questions about ageing, 25 per cent of those who'd espoused negative views had suffered an illness compared with just 13 per cent of those who'd held positive views. Crucially, this association held even after controlling for a raft of other factors that might have explained the link, including health at baseline, family medical history and body mass index at baseline. "This finding suggests that programmes aimed at reducing the negative age stereotypes of younger individuals could benefit their cardiovascular health when they become older individuals," the researchers said. In the Rainbow Years we quote the research that shows that a positive attitude towards ageing can add 7.5 years to your life. This research says that these attitudes begin early so get working on the younger members of your family.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Is my memory getting worse? Better not think so!

A U.S. study has shown that people who think their memories will get worse as they age are more likely to be more forgetful when compared to people who don’t think their memory will worsen with age.

So, remember to tell yourself that your memory is not failing.........

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

More evidence that the over 60's are flocking to the internet

"Older adults are the fastest growing demographic on the Internet," said Professor Vicki Hanson of the School of Computing at Scotland's University of Dundee on the opening day of a global World Wide Web conference in Madrid.

While just over one-fourth, or 26 percent, of 70-75 year olds went online in the United States in 2005, the proportion was 45 percent last year, according to data from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, she said.

The percentage of those aged 76 years and over who surf the Web rose during the same period from 17 percent to 27 percent.

Britain has experienced similar sharp gains in Internet use by people in this age group, said Andrew Arch of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the main international standards organisation for the Web.

"They are basically doing the same things as everyone else. Using the Web for communication, then quickly moving to other activities like information seeking, online banking, shopping," said Arch who works to boost Web accessibility for older and disabled users.

Sending and receiving e-mail is the most popular online activity for Internet users age 64 and older, according to the Pew study.

But older Internet users are less likely than younger Web surfers to do online banking and shopping -- and far less likely to use social networking sites, it found.

Resistance training does more than build strong muscles -- it can turn back the clock

As someone who owns up to using a personal trainer and has done so for 18 months now and felt a huge difference I was intrigued to see an article this morning that produces significant evidence fro the value of resistance training especially the use of weights in combating osteoporosis in men and women. A 2007 study conducted by McMaster University in Hamilton concluded that resistance training can dramatically alter "genetic fingerprints" (DNA). Researchers recommended weightlifting as a means of improving health and reversing the ageing process itself, giving credence to the fact that even moderate resistance training improves our well-being as we get older. Most people believe the best exercise for long term fat-loss is aerobics. Weight loss and fat loss shouldn't be confused. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that a restricted caloric diet, combined with too much cardio in the absence of resistance training can be detrimental to long-term fat-loss, and may lead to long-term weight gain. Excuse me while I go off to do my thrice weekly resistance training!

Monday, 20 April 2009

More employment data from Australia..

.... which supports the US data which is reiterating that it is the younger age groups who are bearing the brunt of the depression.

Data released by the Bureau of Statistics show that while people aged under 25 lost 91,500 full-time jobs in the year to February, people over 50 added 104,000 full-time jobs.

More unexpectedly, while the number of under-25s who were unemployed or out of the workforce shot up by 129,000 over the year, the number of over-50s unemployed, retired or taking time out shrank by 3000.

That means more older people went back to work over the year — no doubt largely because plunging sharemarket values and interest rates have slashed their life savings and/or retirement income streams.

By February 2009, 30 per cent of men aged 65 to 69 were working, and 58 per cent of those aged 60 to 64. Employment rates were much lower for women, but even so, 14 per cent of women aged 65 to 69 were in work, and 38 per cent of those in their early 60s.

While unemployment rose by 187,000 over the year, the figures show just over half of that was concentrated among the young.

I am still trying to find the equivalent UK statistics which just seem hard to get hold of.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Changing face of British workforce

A new report from The Future Laboratory for Friends Provident has found that longevity has an important role to play in future working patterns: the longer people live, and want or need to work for, the more likely they are to branch out into several different types of careers.

More than a third (35 per cent) of 51-55-year-olds plan to alter their careers at least once before retiring. And with one million workers in the UK over the age of 65, and their numbers rising, the report states:
'Healthy, mentally alert longevity will allow individuals to achieve their goals in one career and leave time to do so again in another sector.'

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Unprotected sex on the rise for the over 50's

The over-50s are putting paid to the myth that only young people risk their sexual health, with one in five admitting to having unprotected sex with a new partner. Research by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, has shown that almost one in four of 45- to 54-year-olds said they did not use contraception as they trusted the person they were sleeping with did not have an sexually transmitted infection.

Nearly 32 per cent of the 2,258 people interviewed described their risk of picking up an STI when having unprotected sex as either unlikely or very unlikely. A further 20 per cent believed their chances of catching an STI were "next to nothing."

For all of our life experience and supposed wisdom with advancing years we are certainly naive on this issue.

Organisation and self-control are crucial to longevity

A study led by University of California researchers has found that ambitious, organised and conscientious people are likely to live longer than those who are impulsive.

Howard Friedman, professor of psychology at the university, insists that psychological traits can help predict health risks.

“Not only do conscientious individuals have better health habits and less risk-taking, but they also [have] more stable jobs and marriages and may even have a biological predisposition toward good health,” Professor Friedman says.

The researches observed that highly conscientious people could live up to four years longer, as they were less likely to smoke or drink to excess.

They also found that highly conscientious people led a more stable and less stressful life.

The study involved more than 8,900 participants from the US, Canada, Japan, Germany, Norway and Sweden.

The researchers looked at three facades of conscientiousness - self-control, organisation and industriousness.

Other healthy traits included thoroughness, reliability, deliberation, competence and dutifulness.

“There is some evidence that people can become more conscientious, especially as they enter stable jobs or good marriages,” said co-researcher Margaret Kern.

Not sure that I have too many of these traits so I had better just focus on more exercise and good nutrition and of course being positive about ageing. Remember that can 7.5 years onto your life span.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

64+ doing best in the recession

Latest data from Australia suggests that the only age group that are not suffering from the recession as regards unemployment is the over 64's. Across all age groups bar that one, the unemployment rate has inched upwards over the 12 months to February 2009. We are still waiting to find out exactly what the situation is in the UK.

One Voice report

The One Voice report from the newly merged charity of Age Concern and Help the Aged tracks progress on issues over time. Four of the 30 indicators in the report had improved‚ 13 had worsened and 13 showed no change.

Key findings that have improved in the last year include:

  • One in five people aged between 65 and 74 (19 per cent) are doing recommended levels of exercise. This has risen from 16 per cent.

Key findings that have worsened include:

  • Three fifths of people aged 65 and over (60 per cent) believe older people suffer widespread age discrimination‚ including in the workplace.
  • One in five pensioners (19 per cent)‚ the equivalent of more than two million older people‚ lives below the poverty line.

Key findings that have remained showed no change over the last year include:

  • Seven out of 10 people aged 65 and over (68 per cent) believe politicians see older people as a low priority. The charity is warning politicians that a similar percentage of people aged 55 and over voted in 2005 and this has implications for the approaching General Election [4].
  • One in ten people aged 65 and over (11 per cent)‚ the equivalent of more than one million older people‚ perceive themselves to be often or always lonely.

If you think the recession is bad news read on...

So once the recession is over we will be OK? Right? Wrong according to the IMF. They are claiming that once the recession passes, countries will need to work on closing their gaping fiscal deficits without triggering further collapses in output. They will also need to service bloated national debts. The International Monetary Fund estimates that among the Group of 20 nations whose leaders meet in London this week, the industrialised members will have increased their national debts by an average equivalent to nearly 25 per cent of gross domestic product between 2007 and 2014.

That is a heavy burden. But, to 2050, the cost of this crisis will be no more than 5 per cent of the financial impact they face from the ageing of their citizenry. As the IMF says, “in spite of the large fiscal costs of the crisis, the major threat to long-term fiscal solvency is still represented, at least in advanced countries, by unfavourable demographic trends”.

In the UK, for example, the government expects the extra annual costs imposed by ageing to reach 1.6 per cent of GDP by 2017-18. That is an increase in spending equivalent to the cost of servicing a rise in the national debt burden of about 37 per cent of GDP, according to FT calculations. That outstrips the 29 percentage point rise that the financial crisis and economic downturn are expected to inflict.
The picture by the way is what in my presentations I like to call the Baby boomer tsunami. It is clear that this is coming yet it is so often ignored.
The best we can do therefore is to keep as many boomers in paid work for as long as possible. Does our Government ever read these reports!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Ageing Tweeters

Well - after my disparaging remarks about Twitter earlier I now discover that in the US it is the 45-54 year olds who are using it the most. Reuters reporter Alexei Oreskovic recently authored an interesting blog post about the demographics of Twitter users. What he discovered was that 18-24 year olds, the traditional social media early adopters, are actually 12 percent less likely than average to visit Twitter. It is the 25-54 year old crowd that is actually driving this trend. More specifically, 45-54 year olds are 36 percent more likely than average to visit Twitter, making them the highest indexing age group, followed by 25-34 year olds, who are 30 percent more likely.

So maybe when I get my next book to the publisher at the end of April I will ask my much younger co-author to teach me how it works. She tweets regularly!

The Rainbow Years

Our publisher contacted us the other day to let us know that there has been a spate of reviews of our book on If you want to have a look just click on the picture of the book on the revolving widget. This will take you straight through to the page and just scroll down.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed a review.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

The Death of Retirement

This is the title of a new report from Standard Life that provides even more evidence to back up the central themes of The Rainbow Years. One in three 46-to- 65 year olds want to keep working in new jobs – “on their own terms” – after the official retirement age. The same proportion will learn a new skill. VSO, the overseas development charity, recruits ten times more people aged over 50 than twenty years ago.

According to the Standard Life research, one in twenty would like to start a new business when they retire from their current full-time job. That amounts to one million new businesses. To give that context, there are only two million businesses registered in the UK today.
Honey Langcaster-James writes " The very word ‘retirement’ - coming as it does from the French ‘retirer’ literally means ‘to draw back’. This carries negative connotations as people are expected to opt out of life once they are no longer ‘useful’. This is no longer true. Increasing life
expectancy and prosperity means we will now spend close to a third of our life post 65. We will be healthier, wealthier and, for the first time, have the genuine freedom to define our own identity and direction, without being shackled by the need to ‘fit in’ or ‘tow the line’. This is the ‘third age’, an age of choice and freedom to do what you want, go where you want and be who you want to be".

And she probably hasn't even read The Rainbow Years!

Raising grandchildren in a recession

A fascinating article today in the Wall Street Journal, “‘Grandfamilies’ Come Under Pressure” discusses the recession poses unique problems for people raising their grandchildren.

Some six million kids, representing about 8 percent of American children, live with their grandparents, according to the U.S. Census bureau.

"Today, more and more children are being raised by their grandparents. These grandparents provide a crucial safety net, allowing children whose parents can’t provide for them to remain in families, instead of winding up as wards of the state. But as the recession hits “grandfamilies,” that safety net is under stress. The unemployment rate for older workers is lower than the overall rate. But once they become unemployed, older workers find it harder to land a job and they tend to remain out of work longer than younger workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate for those 55 and over has been climbing significantly in recent months; in March, it rose to 6.2 percent — the highest it has been since September, 1949, according the bureau….

Many older workers who lose their jobs drop out of the work force, believing their efforts are hopeless. The number of people 55 and older classified by the federal government as “discouraged” — meaning they’ve given up looking for work because they don’t think there are any jobs for them — nearly tripled from December 2007 to December 2008, to 154,000 from 53,000, according to the AARP Public Policy Institute."

The medical literature is mixed on the health effects of raising grandchildren. Some studies show that raising your grandchildren takes a toll on your health. Not only is the job physically tiring, but grandparents who are raising young children often suffer from less sleep and exposure to childhood colds and have less time to take care of themselves. At the same time, some grandparents enjoy raising their grandchildren and believe it makes them more active and connected.

We have posted before on the huge contribution that grandparents make to their families and to our economy in the UK and this is often not given appropriate recognition and can even have negative tax and pension implications for this caring group.

Study proves that older adults are mentally tough

A study published today in the Medical Journal of Australia shows a link between physical and mental decline in older adults.

The study found that rates of depression in older Australian adults are not as high as previous research studies have indicated.

"Depression amongst older adults is the exception not the rule in older adults," said Dr Jon Pfaff, the study's lead author, based at the Western Australian Centre for Health and Ageing.

Professor Osvaldo Almeida, Director of Research at the Western Australian Centre for Health and Ageing, said the results were very exciting for two reasons.

"We were able to confirm that poor physical health has a significant impact on mental wellbeing and, more importantly, we showed that older people are mentally very resilient, as only significant physical disability seems to undermine good mental health," Professor Almeida said.

"It is as if the mind does not suffer the effects of ageing in the same way that the body does; our minds remain young until very late in life."

Previous studies have shown that this age group responds well to treatment.

So yet again more evidence of the importance of staying physically fit. As we are keep reporting you are never too old to start a fitness programme.

Monday, 6 April 2009

It pays to talk..

Some new research carried out by BT shows that half of over-50s do not tell their children about the physical things they can no longer do for themselves.It also shows more than a third (37%) of people under 50 find it difficult to talk to their parents and in-laws about the fact they are getting older.

The findings came from an ICM survey of 2,000 UK adults carried out from March 4-8.

The poll also found more than two thirds (69%) of adults under 50 in the UK are concerned about caring for their parents or in-laws as they get older, while 77% of over 50s are concerned about being a burden on their children.

Despite an apparent reluctance to talk about getting older, 80% of people over 50 expect to rely on the telephone to make sure they can keep in touch with family and friends as their mobility decreases. Well this is a BT survey so you might expect that but even so it does seem a pity that so many of us have difficulties in discussing these issues within our families. Come on - let us trust ourselves and our families and talk more openly.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

IOD now supports abolition of the default state retirement age

Its not always attractive to keep looking at older posts and because of this I want to highlight a comment that has been posted today by Malcolm Small from the IOD. We had a conversation today about the IOD position and Malcolm informed me that he is now writing a new policy paper to be launched in the autumn on this and related issues. To save you the trouble I am reproducing his comment below. "Well, you don't need to persuade the IoD, at least, any more. I'm writing a policy paper for launch in the Autumn - the Roadmap for Retirement Reform 2009 - which will look positively at how older workers can add real value in business. The impossibility of funding a 30 year retirement from a 35 year working life means continued employment is a vital, legitimate, strategy for the "baby boom" generation. There's no doubt we will see a lot more elder workers, at all levels, in future - and elder entrepreneurs, too." Thank you to the IOD for having the courage to change their views so publically.

The pluses (and negatives) of being 50-plus

This was the very positive email that I received this morning from Dick Stroud who runs 50 + Marketing and has an excellent book out on that subject.

Back in February I was sent a copy of The Rainbow Years: The Pluses of Being 50+, a book by Barrie Hopson and Mike Scally.

We are now into April and the book remains unread. Pressure of work and all of that stuff...

Last weekend I had an old friend staying who started to read the book and kept reading. If it had this effect on Robert then it must be doing a lot of things right since he is the sort of guy who gives short shrift to waffle and psychobabble.

As he departed I thrust the book in his hand and asked him to write a short review - this is what he said.

Written largely in the format of a workbook, it follows a path of individual life review and assessment - a personal SWOT analysis, supported with helpful articles and anecdotes to encourage clear and informed future life decision making for those traditionally approaching retirement.

However, as one actually in the target age group, there is much to be commended in this extension to the Rainbow theme. Firstly there is the purely practical discipline of the section by section approach. After all, few of us really plan beyond the immediate arrival of an event, and many stop full time work honestly admitting that they really don’t know what they are going to do.

Preparation provided by employers in the past is increasingly rare, and with job continuity so much less secure than it was, opportunity for detailed planning is limited and unguided. Consequently whilst I can see the described process forming a framework for seminars and group approaches, the Rainbow workbook is more likely to come into its own as a personal tool for those aware that they should be planning for change, but lacking support as to structure.

The authors however, go beyond the pure retirement consideration. It references directly the massive change in prospective longevity combined with improved health. It focuses the mind on the range of alternatives other than moving from work to retirement in one fell swoop. Discussion identifies the wealth potential in over 50`s, yet is sufficiently up to date to note the life inconsistencies between capital wealth and pension income over a possible non working period of 40 or 50 years.

The authors suggest a future “norm” of a “mixed activity” which could contain traditional or charitable work, pure recreation, physical and mental stimuli, continued over many years.

The essential difference which they highlight in this “third age” is the matter of choice. Never before has a generation been so placed as to be able to decide their later life balance, or to have so long to regret a lack of planning. No longer driven by necessity to absolute ambition and earnings to the detriment of other things, but aware that only so much golf or so many holidays are possible before frustration kicks in, the new over 50`s may have the same opportunity to shape their future as they had at 20, largely without the same fear and pressure, but potentially with the same anticipation and satisfaction.

To be recommended to anyone over 50 needing to reshape their future, to any prospective retiree stumbling myopically into the future, and even to those already retired, but honest enough to admit that they are not enjoying life as they might have hoped!

Clearly the book worked for Robert. If you are interested in the 50-plus market then the book provides you with insights into the options, decisions and the range of emotions swelling around in the heads of your target customers. Sounds like a good buy to me. Dick Stroud

Keep on dancing

You may recall that I was in raptures a couple of weeks ago about the over 50's chorus girls and boys in the Palm Springs Follies. Well, there is now new evidence that suggests that older people can dance their way towards improved health and happiness, according to a report from the Changing Ageing Partnership (CAP).

The research, by Dr Jonathan Skinner from Queen's University Belfast, reveals the social, mental and physical benefits of social dancing for older people. It suggests that dancing staves off illness, and even counteracts the ageing process.

Recommendations include the expansion of social dance provision for older people in order to aid successful ageing and help older people enjoy longer and healthier lives.

Jonathan Skinner, Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the School of History and Anthropology at Queen's, studied the effects of social dancing amongst older people in Northern Ireland, Blackpool and Sacramento, USA.

Dr Skinner said: 'I have found that social dancing leads to a continued engagement with life - past, present, and future - and holds the promise for successful ageing. It contributes to the longevity of the dancers, giving them something to enjoy and focus upon - to live for. It alleviates social isolation and quite literally helps take away the aches and pains associated with older age.'

So - a bit of 'Strictly' for us all.