100 Birthdays and more

Recently it seems as though the once cherished telegram from the Queen on achieving the age of 100 is no longer that rare, 100 seems to be somewhat expected. When I was in my twenties it seemed unthinkable that I or anyone I knew would reach such an age and that included my then baby daughter. A respectable age was somewhere in the early 80’s and by that age you would expect to be quite frail and dependent on others, cars were almost forcefully removed by the family once you were in your 70’s, it was unthinkable that someone that age could drive without crashing, today they are vaguely discussion if it might be a good idea to retest people once they are over 75. Our expectation of life has changed so much that it seems almost unrecognisable to those I based thing on as a child. I’ll reword that, as a child I thought it was unthinkable that I could live past 21, older than that and you were so old it was unthinkable, but I expected my grandparent to achieve an age into their late 70’s or early 80’s. I think we are all forced to wonder at times how long we will live and what lies ahead of us, but more and more there is a new element that is being added into that thought process, quality of life. With medical treatments being developed almost daily, our ability to prolong life also grows. We are now expected to work past the age that many of our grandparents and great grandparent had already died by. The whole question has become a web that is impossible to cross without sticking to it at some point.

For many years I have paid into a private pension fund, which I actually never thought I would use to retire. Retirement to me seemed like an odd thing to want to do, my pension was there to cover me if I in the future required to be cared for in a home. I hoped that my contributions would secure a reasonably good level of care and support should I need it. Well that plan has shattered, I expect there will be little there to show for my effort, unless someone offers me a job, I clearly can’t afford now to make any further payments.

I still can’t understand why most people seem to have this stance that retirement it a right. Until after WW2, there was no such thing as retirement unless your family could care for you or you had savings that would allow it. With the arrival of the welfare state things changed and I agree that we have all paid into it and it should be there if needed. What I don’t get and never have done, is why it is linked to a set age. I don’t see why the age that retirement start isn’t agreed upon by your employer, your Dr and you, no one is more able to say you are capable of still working. Should you want to retire earlier then it should be you that supplies the income to do so. At this point I can feel hackles rising everywhere. If you have the health to live to be over 100 why would you want to spend the last forty odd years of your life not working?

Until MS changed everything I really had no intentions of ever retiring, I never thought I would really be able to afford to. The state pension and my private one together would never have been enough to cover the costs. I thought that I would work until I couldn’t and take retirement when forced. I am sure there are many who like me would have been most happy if there was a possibility of a 50/50 split, meaning that you could claim half your pension and work part time, once that wasn’t possible retire fully. During the part time phase you would still make payments towards full retirement. This would take a major shift in thinking and that is were everything always goes wrong, that shift in thinking is a cavern.

I’m not a political person and I have never been, but of all the issues that our government and all government round the world have to deal with isn’t which country is trying to blow up another, but how do we deal with an ever growing and ever aging population. I wish them luck.