UK Older People's Day (Part 6)

27 Aug 2014

For UK Older People’s Day 2014, as well as the theme of ‘Full of Life’, each month has been designated with a particular theme.  For September, the theme is ‘Full of Industry, Commerce and Business'.

The initiative of Trading Times – Age of No Retirement will ‘bring together for the first time Britain’s key thinkers, influencers and innovators to re-model how we live and work. Exploring the value of a society, not in which we are all old, but in which people live longer, healthier and more productively than ever before.’

Sonia says:

So much has been written about the effect of an ageing society on the young – how this will prevent younger people progressing in their careers, even how younger people cannot get a first foot on the ladder of their careers because the ‘oldies’ are standing in the way."

How can we turn this perceived disadvantage on its head? Older people too have more demands on their time, giving up work to care for grandchildren or family members or both. As I get older I want to have more time to enjoy life – although the statistics show the trend is for us all to live longer, the reality is that not all of us will make it! None of us want an epitaph saying ‘She worked till she dropped.’

I am a strong believer that the answer is a phased retirement, giving us all time to adjust to having more time on our hands, take up new hobbies or interests, see more of family and friends and still make a contribution to society whether through paid work or unpaid volunteering.

This, however, sets a real challenge to companies – thinking more creatively about how jobs and budgets are divided up, allowing older people (and their younger counterparts) to work to their strengths, mentoring the next generation of workers to become experts in their field.

Instead of job roles and management we could have people dividing the work according to their skills, availability of hours and energy levels, sharing responsibility for supporting each other in having better work-life balances and at the same time breaking down the barriers that often exist between the older and younger worker.

The Age of No Retirement does not have to mean us all working till we drop, it could mean us finding different ways to fill our time, make a contribution to society, feel fulfilled and wanted, and most importantly having some fun!

Sonia Douek is Head of volunteering and community development at Jewish Care and has developed a strategy for the organisation that has seen the growth of volunteers in the organisation reach 3,000 people.

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