We are well into
February already, and good riddance to January.
January was truly one of the saddest I have known in terms of those the
entertainment world has lost. It hits home
just how short life can be, which is why I never understand why some people
fear retirement. I appreciate that some
careers can go on far beyond that, but for the common or garden nine to fiver
it baffles me. Once I looked forward to
retireing at 60, so when the claxon goes to mark my state pension age, now 67,
I’ll be off in a shot. For me retirement marks the beginning of my life not the
end.

For a past
generation, the retirement age, 60 for women, 65 for men, when state pension
could be drawn, was something people worked towards, something employers worked
by. It was put into place for a reason, aside from giving us a rest to enjoy
what time we have left, it made way for the younger generation so they could
have jobs and enjoy a regular life too.
As it is the current state of affairs is not promising.
The Government has staggered the state pension age, and discrimination
against age makes it difficult for employers to enforce retirement. To counterbalance this, youths now have to
stay on in education or training for longer. Now I am not against education, it
is a good thing, but overall the situation must have a negative knock on
effect. You can rob Peter to pay Paul,
but Peter still needs to be paid. There
are swings and roundabouts and catch 22s all at the same time.

Most of us will
factor in our state pensions when calculating the right time to retire and for
many there will never be a right time financially. But how many older people look down on youths
who roam the streets or sit on their backsides enjoying the wealth of benefits
because they don’t have jobs. My guess is that some of those people are the
ones who refuse to retire unless pushed.
It could be said that staying on in employment after state pension age
provides the opportunity to defer state pension, thus boosting the Government’s
coffers for longer, but to whose benefit.

Is there a
solution? There is, but without dragging to the depths of other political and
social issues (living wage, immigration, benefits etc), I cannot conclude here.
However, there are ways that we as individuals can contribute to our own
wellbeing towards and in retirement and perhaps quash the fear and thus help
restore the balance in society

There is no shame
in being old. If you worry about not being in control anymore then that is down
to your own insecurity. If you feel you
have nothing left to live for it is your own fault for not filling your life
with anything other than work. You are
not on the scrap heap. Look at retirement as a new chapter in life, you have
earned it. Stop for a moment and look
around, you might just see there is more to offer than you thought. The key is in planning. Always look to the
future, don’t dwell on the past, it is gone.

Save some money,
if for nothing else, to pay your own funeral expenses when the time comes (and
it will). Downzise your accommodation or release the equity. Economise.
Keep busy. Pursue further those
hobbies and interests or find some more – make a list of what those are. Make use of your freedom bus pass and go
places. Finish those projects around the
house, visit friends, make new ones, tidy up that paperwork and loose ends in
your life. De-clutter. So many things to
concentrate on. Look forward to having a lie in every day, in being able to
forget that it is Monday tomorrow, in being able to decide what you want to do
today.

Employers can do
their bit too by rethinking staff deployment in creating mentoring positions
for any employee who has reached state pension age, ready to train up new
employees in the form of an apprenticeship.

And here is one
for the Government – Once upon a time every young man had to do national
service. How about a retirement national
service coming into play, where a person who reaches state pension age has to
serve 2 years working in a nursing/retirement home (those well enough to). I hope it would make some
realise just how lucky they are and then decide to make the most of what time
they have left.

Finally, if you
absolutely have to work then volunteer. There are plenty of worthwhile and
rewarding volunteering jobs out there. So go to it.

Catch me in 15
years to see if I need to eat my words.