March 23, 2011

BERMUDA: Islanders face being forced to work after 65

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HAMILTON, Bermuda / Bermuda Sun / News / March 23, 2011

Experts say seniors will have to stay employed to help support our ageing population

Healthy: Seniors and youths are encouraged to live active lifestyle to reduce the risk of medical problems.
*iStock photo

By Raymond Hainey, Senior reporter

Islanders may have to keep working for years after they turn 65, experts said yesterday.


Bermuda faces a demographic time bomb with the number of residents aged 65 or older likely to exceed those of working age by 2025.

It means people could be forced to work longer than ever to sustain the costs of supporting a larger population of retirees.

Claudette Fleming, executive director of Age Concern, said: “This has to happen and has happened in other industrialised countries.”

She said extra money would have to be found for training schemes for older people to allow them to keep working.

Policy
She added: “Older people may have to shift careers because they might not be as physically fit. “A lot of legislative work has to be done as well.”

A falling birth rate — due to women with careers having smaller families later in life — plus increasing life expectancies have resulted in a larger number of people of pensionable age but a smaller pool of people of working age to support them.

Ms Fleming said: “There are implications in terms of policy because whatever we do now, we are writing a cheque younger people will have to honour later on.”

She was speaking after the two-day National Conference on Ageing, held at Fairmont Southhampton Resort, yesterday.

The U.K. is to raise the official retirement age and eligibility for a state pension from 65 to 66 in 2020. A further increase has not been ruled out.

The move is expected to save more than $7.8 billion over the next four years.

Health Minister Zane DeSilva told the conference: “Our vision is to see a Bermuda where seniors are considered a valued sector of our community and have a role to play in the development of our country based on their experiences and abilities.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that they live in an environment which allows them to continue to contribute and the systems that encourage that contribution are sustainable. Part of our plan involves the concept of ‘active ageing’, which represents a real shift from the current model of ageing as a dependent stage of life.

“Active refers to continuing participation in social, economic, cultural, spiritual and civic affairs — not just the ability to be physically active or participate in the workforce.”

Mr DeSilva said that to live a more active life when you are a senior, people must look after themselves in their youth.

He added: “In order for society to benefit, we must start the process now — not only for existing seniors but for the young man and woman in their 30s who will become seniors one day.

Medical
“Healthcare and long-term care are not the only issues that need to be addressed.

“If we are to deliver on the vision of active ageing for Bermuda, we have to look at much more than just medical care and nursing homes.”

Ms Fleming also believes young people have a responsibility to prepare financially for their senior years and should look after their health so they can stay fitter for longer.

She said: “People have to look at investments and pensions almost from when they start work and at the condition of their homes to make sure it won’t lead to large and unexpected bills.

“People will have to retire and if they are sick and older, it will be the most expensive part of their lives in terms of healthcare.”

Copyright © 2011 Bermuda Sun Ltd.