Will your life be as well lived?
Posted on Dec 03, 2018
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We have recently heard about the deaths of two remarkable people – Harry Leslie Smith and Baroness Trumpington – both examples of a life long lived and lived well. They both show that, ill health permitting, one can continue to make a difference well into old age.
Mr Smith, a World War Two veteran, grew up in poverty and described himself as the ‘world’s oldest rebel’. He died in Canada aged 95, while visiting his son. When he wasn’t there, he was either at home in Yorkshire or travelling the world visiting refugees and speaking up on their behalf.
While on the other side of the political fence from Labour activist, Mr Smith, the former Tory minister and government whip Baroness Trumpington died in the same week at the age of 96.
She only retired from the House of Lords last year and was captured a few years ago making a V-sign at a fellow Tory over what she saw as a rude remark about her age; it went viral and introduced her to a wider audience outside of Westminster with appearances on programmes such as Have I Got News For You and the Great British Menu.
In World War Two, the then Jean Alys Campbell-Harris worked in naval intelligence at Bletchley Park. Fluent in French and German, at 18 she worked as a cypher clerk, transcribing messages from German submarines for code breakers.
That ‘natural order’ of childhood, adulthood and a decline into old age and death doesn’t exist anymore. People in their 60s and 70s are fit and healthy and doing as much as adults 20 or 30 years younger than them. Look at the participants in this year’s ‘I’m a Celebrity’ – with 69-year-old Noel Edmonds looking fit as a fiddle (or according to the Daily Mail, boasting the body of Tarzan). The media is full of articles saying that his appearance is sure to lead to a resurgence in his career. Not so long ago, the average 69-year-old would be happily pottering in their garden.
A recent opinion piece in the FT Magazine looked at how the so called ‘three-stage life’ is posing a new challenge to us all. Young people born today are increasingly likely to live to 100 and it’s becoming clear that we could all have three or more decades of life to usefully fill after leaving the world of work.
The article argues that there’s a real gulf between the old and young in society today. In days gone by, the old and young in a family would spend more time together. Young people rarely attended university and older people rarely retired; and multigenerational families would live together. Some people didn’t even know how old they were.
Now, the article continues, we have a three-stage-life – young people study, those from their 20s to 60s work and the old are retired and segregated from everyone else.
While Harry Leslie Smith and Baroness Trumpington led high-profile lives in the public eye well into their 90s, many older people are enduring a lonely existence with the charity The Silver Line reporting that it receives more than 10,000 calls a week.
Age UK reports that over a million older Britons report going more than a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or relative.
Things might be changing though. People are staying in the work environment longer and we’ve certainly noticed this among our own clients. Many of the people we talk to don’t feel ready to retire in their mid-60s and continue to work in some capacity – perhaps part-time or on a consultancy basis. This can only have benefits for the workplace. In Japan, for instance, this has been embraced with one worker in eight now over 65.
Alternatively, many colleges are now offering ‘third age’ programmes as older people want to expand their knowledge and find out more about the world and have the time to do so.
At The Goodman Partnership, we work with our clients to help them to live the best retirement they can and to make memories along the way. Call us on tel: 01892 500600 to find out more.