Thursday, 26 August 2010

Grandparent carers

From April 2011, working age grandparents who provide care for a child will be able to get their National Insurance contribution credited to help build up their basic state pension. For more information contact Grandparents Plus, a national charity, telephone 020 8981 8001,

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Is our future in retail?

 A report by Skillsmart Retail reveals that while 16 to 24-year-olds still dominate the retail profile, there is a decline in employees of this age.
Conversely, the number of older members of staff - from 55 to 74 - has grown over the last eight years.

Last year workers aged over 55 accounted for one in seven of the workforce, with 50,000 more people from that group working in retail than in 2001.

And the potential market for retailers to employ from within the 50-plus age group is nearly three times greater than the 16 to 24 age group, says Skillsmart Retail.

As people live longer, and with the compulsory retirement age of 65 soon to be phased out, Skillsmart Retail now predicts a 22% increase in the number of over-50s working in retail in the next 10 years.

The report also predicts that the next decade could see a 9% drop in the number of 16 to 24-year-olds working in retail.

Typically, a younger worker will remain with a retailer for one to two years, while the over-50s stay for between five to 10.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Definitely the last of the summer wine

Wonderful article on the BBC website about what did Last of the Summer Wine teach us. As it happened I had a meeting in Holmfirth last week and it was a joy revisiting the place again after 15 years. It has somewhat been taken over by the TV series but still a gorgeous place to visit. If you go you must go to the Longley cafe with their superb ice creams and other goodies.

Eat more berries!

The latest directive from the scientists as to what to eat orders us all to eat more berries to keep our brains young.
Strawberries, blackberries and blueberries contain high levels of compounds called polyphenolics, which help the brain to carry out essential 'housekeeping' functions.
Eating fruits with deep orange, red or blue pigments can even reverse the loss of brain power, according to a two month study of laboratory rats fed a berry-rich diet.
Shibu Poulose, who presented his research at the American Chemical Society on Monday, said: "The good news is that natural compounds called polyphenolics found in fruits, vegetables and nuts have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect that may protect against age-associated decline."

Polyphenolics in berries help certain cells called microglia, which clean up toxic proteins linked to age-related memory loss and other symptoms of mental decline. 

So now we have to consume chocolate, milk, red wine and lots of berries. Gets better all the time doesn't it!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Retiring at 66

I have to say that my initial reaction to the increase in the state retirement age for men in 2016 was largely positive. TAEN have produced a very thoughtful report on the issue before coming out against it. If this is a topic of interest to you download their report and see what you think. In spite of their case I think overall I am still in favour although I certainly was unaware that our pensions are about the lowest in Europe. Those Greeks certainly had it made. No wonder they have taken to the streets.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Sex and the over 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's .....

Great article by Pamela Stephenson Connolly in the Daily Mail in which she discusses sexuality and older people within the context of different cultures. Read her description of sex and older people in the Kiribati who live in the Pacific. You will never be able to hear the song "I'm a little teapot" again without an even broader smile!

Money is the biggest worry for the 50+'s

According to new research from Scottish Widows. Although one does not wish to be cynical there is always a potential conflict of interest when you have pension providers telling us that we all need to save more in pension funds.However, that said data from their inaugural retire-easy report showed that 56 per cent of over 50’s are worried about financial stresses when they retire.

Around 30 per cent of over 50’s were worried about missing the structure in life that came with retirement and 22 per cent in the same age bracket enjoyed their job and didn’t want to stop working.

Scottish Widows recommend that from the age of 30 to retirement age, at least 12 per cent of your salary should be put in your pension pot to ensure an adequate income when retired.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Senior playgrounds idea catches on

You might recall that sometime last year I posted on a senior playground which opened in Blackley, Manchester in 2008, while similar playgrounds are already proving popular in Europe and China. Well, last week one opened in Hyde Park in London. There is an excellent article describing this on the Age UK website.
Nick Smurthwaite did a review and went with members of his family.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

A fit heart slows down brain ageing

Researchers at Boston University found that healthy people with sluggish hearts that pumped out less blood had “older” brains that could raise their risk of dementia.
The team looked at 1,500 people and observed that the brain shrinks as it ages, but a poor cardiac output ages the brain by nearly two years on average.
According to the researchers, the link was not only seen in elderly people with heart disease, but also found in younger people in their 30s who did not have cardiac problems.
Dr Angela Jefferson, who led the study, said: “The observation that nearly a third of the entire sample has low cardiac index and that lower cardiac index is related to smaller brain volume is concerning and requires further study.”
The participants with smaller brain volumes on MRI did not show obvious clinical signs of reduced brain function.
But the researchers said the shrinkage may be an early sign that something is wrong. More severe shrinkage or atrophy occurs with dementia.
Dr Jefferson said there were several theories for why reduced cardiac index — how much blood the heart pumps out relative to body size — might affect brain health.
For example, a lower volume of blood pumping from the heart might reduce flow to the brain, providing less oxygen and fewer nutrients needed for brain cells.
However, the researchers said more research is required to better understand the links between cardiovascular disease and brain structure and function.
“It is too early to dole out health advice based on this one finding but it does suggest that heart and brain health go hand in hand,” she said.
The study has been appeared in the journal Circulation. 

So what do you do to keep your heart healthy? I think you already know what to do about that so just do more of it!

Middle-aged, middle class, with top why can't they get a job?

Excellent article in the Daily Mail by Steve Boggan which explores this topic with some extraodinary case studies. Not pleasant reading but sadly fits in with the reports that we are now getting regularly from TAEN and from Age UK. It also does not show up Job Centre Plus in a good light which also is far too common.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Public sector urged to tap experience of older workers

Excellent article in the Guardian by Jo Adetunji pointing out amongst other things that around £31bn could be saved annually if the proportion of 50- to 69-year-olds in work increased by 0.25%. She also discusses how to make the most of the experience of older workers and how they will not necessarily be taking up posts that could be filled by younger people. Most of the over 60's that I know want flexible working and less paid work which enables them to follow other passions or provide caring when required.

Too old to change careers?

According to press reports, a survey conducted by HSBC shows that 30% of the UK’s 21.3 million over 50s have changed careers in their later working years and that 41% of those aged 60 to 70 have done so. While 21% of those who have changed their career did so as a result of being made redundant, 15% chose to "career shift" for a change of direction, and 11% because they were looking for a career that was less pressurized and demanding. 30% of  50+’s have changed careers in their later working years.

So - no! You are never too old.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Free bus pass age will rise

The new G'ment will abide by the policy previously announced by Alistair Darling that people with existing bus passes will keep them but in the future eligibility will increase year by year at a rate yet to be determined.

Savings from the increase in bus pass age is forecast to make a saving of £60 million a year of the estimated £1 billion annual cost. 

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Red wine really can help you to stay healthier and live longer

This is an assertion that has been around for many years but it is always good to get additional evidence for my delight in red wine consumption.

Researchers at the University of Buffalo, New York, writing in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, said they wanted to study its effect on humans. They found that a plant extract contained in the skin of red grapes helps protect the body against ageing. It had already been shown to prolong life in yeast and animals such as roundworms and fruit flies but now they have found that the extract, resveratrol, reduced inflammation in humans that leads to heart disease, strokes and Type 2 Diabetes.

They concluded that their findings indicated consuming resveratrol could help reduce the development of type 2 diabetes, ageing, heart disease and strokes. 

I'll drink to that!