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STRUCTURE EE_062016_general_layout.tpl - url: /opinion/The-way-things-are-going-next-generation-will-be-working-at-90-fb97e448-ef88-4e91-9418-069a912a89df-ds

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David Attenborough is still trundling around rain forests aged 90. Picture: Jason Baron
Jason Baron - BBC Pictures
David Attenborough is still trundling around rain forests aged 90. Picture: Jason Baron

The way things are going, next generation will be working at 90

YOU know you’re pushing on when most of your friends are either retired or about to retire. It’s a sign that time is marching on and it’s not making any allowances for you, no matter how special you think you are.

As one friend put it, we’re in the departure lounge. He might be right but I’m not ready to pop my clogs just yet. It’s not all doom and gloom though because times have changed and we’re living longer so I won’t be planning my wake for another while. At least, I hope not.

There was a time when life was more predictable. We spent our formative years in school, dealing with whatever torture was inflicted upon us at the hands of our tormentors and then we left.

Battered and bruised, we headed towards the next stage of life which was employment.

Those who listened to their mothers, gravitated towards the bank or the civil service. The select few went on to third level education. Others learned a trade while the rest grabbed a pick and a shovel and made their way through life as best they could.

Everybody worked until they reached the age of 65 and then prepared for retirement. They got a gold watch, a pipe and a pair of slippers and that was that, all the best.

I often wondered why it was determined that a gold watch was the best thing to give to someone retiring. They got a quality timepiece at the very stage in their lives when they no longer needed to know whether it was day or night.

It would have made more sense to give new employees a gold watch when they started working so they would turn up on time, and then take it off them when they retired. Not the other way around.

Anyway, back in the day, retirees took up gardening, if they had a garden, or else they just sat by the fire and waited for the inevitable. Leisure activities weren’t as common as they are now, and people weren’t as fit either. Jogging was unheard of and if you saw someone running on the road you just assumed they were being chased by an angry husband or a police officer.

It wasn’t unusual for people to die within a few years of retiring but that has changed. We are living and working longer which means that we must change the way we plan for our old age. There will be more of us around so there will be a greater demand on the services of those who devote their lives to caring for oldies like us. They will have to work harder.

The notion of a long and healthy life is a welcome prospect for most of us, but a shorter life would be preferable if things become unpleasant. Few of us relish the idea of having to be spoon fed or having to be introduced to our family members every time they visit.

Financial independence is another concern because nobody wants to be a burden on the family.

The days of guaranteed 30 to 35 years of secure employment are well gone and long-term job security is rare. That presents a difficulty for people entering the jobs market because while the odds favour them living longer, the chances are that they won’t have a job for life, but they will still have to support themselves.

Retirement is a major life event for us all and we need to be ready for it. Those who have an active social life with interests outside work, seem to adapt better than those whose lives revolve around their workplace and their colleagues.

It’s very much an individual thing and there are many retirees who will tell you they find it hard to pass the time while there are plenty more who will tell you that there aren’t enough hours in the day.

But the way things are going, today’s young people won’t be retiring until they reach their 90s.

They won’t have to worry about what they are going to do with their free time because they won’t have any. Especially if they live in Japan.

The Japanese population is getting older and remaining healthier and now it seems that they may need to work longer too. Economists say if Japan wants to solve its labour shortage, it will have to keep people working into their 70s. It has one of the world’s oldest populations with over a quarter of the people being over 65 years of age.

Japan has the world’s longest life expectancy and it estimated that by 2050, women in the country on average, will live past 90. They also have a low birth rate which means that the working population is shrinking while the number of workers over the age of 65, rose to 7.3 million in 2015.

Germany, France, Italy and the UK have all agreed to raise the state pension age between now and 2028 and it’s rising here too. So, don’t be surprised to see old policemen shuffling after arthritic robbers or ancient taxi drivers going around in circles with passengers who have forgotten where they live.

On the other hand, journalist, Alistair Cooke read his weekly Letter from America, to an estimated radio audience of 34 million until a month before he died at 95. David Attenborough is still trundling through the rain forests at 90 years of age.

Old age might get very confusing, but thankfully, I don’t have to worry about that for now. But I feel sorry for the young lady who just walked into my house claiming to be my daughter and the child with her who seems to think I’m his granddad. They’re very young to be losing the plot.