In the same week that a 76 year old was elected the new Pope, an influential report- Ready for Ageing?- by a committee of the House of Lords in the UK was issued.The essence of the report was the revelation of growing numbers of older people in society ( not really news to many) and the worrying lack of preparation to cope with an ever ageing population.
Although to many approaching their later years this trend promises a gift of longer life, it is a challenge for government to deal with the special needs of older people, for example, home care,appropriate accommodation,and medical services.
How long should older people be allowed or encouraged to work? When is a person to be deemed to be too old to hold down a particular job? What is beyond argument is the Committee’s finding that in the UK, by 2030, the number of over -65s will have increased by a third.Also, there will be twice as many people over the age of 85 than there were in 2010.Surely, this should be a cause for celebration.? If the ‘greying’ generation is staying fitter this should cheer us all. But the challenge above referred to needs to be prepared for now.The Lords report shows that the politicians are finally waking up to the issues. Welcoming the recommendations of the report, Caroline Abrahams of AgeUK says,” Government has no choice but to take -up this challenge.”
Far from being a drag on the economy, the over-65s have proved to be a valuable sector of the workforce through difficult economic times.Age should be counted an asset. We are now frequently told that with age comes wisdom. And ,that with age our brains make us less prone to sudden surges of emotion and, therefore, less impulsive. Perhaps, as more people work on past the traditional age of 65 years, the word and concept of retirement will slip away out of fashion.Apparently more than one million are still in employment up from around 500,000 ten years ago.
This growing number will want different services and products than their parents.This will offer a huge commercial opportunity.An ‘older’ population in a country can often indicate a settled and more prosperous,healthier, and longer living people. Britain’s oldies help keep the economy going.We are now surely in a time in which a Pope aged 76 can still offer great service to his church and to mankind, and one in which a Pope can live long enough to retire rather than die in harness.
I’ll leave you with a Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times columnist, Bible quote:
“Is not wisdom found among the aged?Does not long life bring understanding? (Job 12:12)