Making an Economic Contribution by Robin Trimingham
In the past older people were few in number, frail, and non-contributors to society. They were often revered socially, but they were not contributors to the economy and so their needs were ignored by governments who considered this the responsibility of their families. But healthcare has changed life expectancy AND more importantly the number of productive years that the average person can achieve.
According to Age Concern UK, there are currently 868 million older people in the world but there is still a global perception that older people are less productive and less innovative; have lower rates of consumption and are but passive recipients of welfare provision.
The truth is that many of these people are still healthy enough and alert enough to make a contribution to the economy, in fact they want to do so for reasons ranging from financial to self-worth, but their needs are still being ignored.
Senior citizens are the fastest growing demographic on the planet and by 2050 there will be 2 billion older people meaning that they will outnumber younger people in many countries. Like it or not, the world is going to have to adapt to this new reality and the countries that embrace this situation the soonest will lead the global economy.
The problem is, HOW do you go about this with mandatory retirement in place and a reluctance to hire older people?
Many older people currently feel that the situation is hopeless because they have been locked out of opportunities, and / or do not possess the necessary skills to take advantage of the few opportunities that might be available. They may or may not live to benefit from government reforms, but until changes take place they are going to have to find innovative ways to contribute to the economy. No one is going to pretend that this is easy, but stubbornness thinking outside the box will become the mantra of the successful.
The trick might be to start making something very simple right at home and selling it for extra cash: grow plants, refinish furniture, build bird houses, revive a traditional craft that you remember from your childhood.
Or think about what sort of service you could offer to another senior: be a paid companion, escort someone to medical appointments, do grocery shopping, do some cooking.
You notice that I have left the more physical jobs off the list – everyone knows that I good housekeeper is worth their weight in gold, but not all of us have that level of energy any more. But if you do – there is always work for gardeners, housekeepers, painters, and people who can do any sort of household repairs.
I know one man who does quite well advertising himself as “rent a husband”; he specializes in small simple jobs like fixing toilets and repairing windows. Or maybe you would excel as “rent a granny” and offer affordable child care either afterschool or for a few hours on the weekend.
Hopefully this article will get you thinking about knitting, or raising puppies or doing something fabulous that has not occurred to me. There is no wrong way to be an economic contributor. Don’t wait for rain that may not come it time – dig out your wellies and go water your garden. You can be as successful as you want to be; you just have to put your mind to it.
By Robin Trimingham