Sex- the final frontier – at least in our perception of pensions and pensioners.
I ‘m sure that the concept of recreational sex for the over 70s is not a dinner-party favourite for yuppies like my friend Jeroen Wilbrink . It’s tough enough for youngsters to think of their parents – let alone their grandparents enjoying life this way.
But Jeroen is one of those bright people who does challenge received ideas and a couple of years ago he published a blog on linked in which I re-publish in its entirety other than to adjust the ages of the glam role-models featured at its end.
One of the reasons we have difficulty spending on our old age is that we can’t imagine it will be worth spending on. If your idea of growing old includes a catheter and a bedpan then you are hardly going to engage with saving for it.
There is nothing wrong with “old” as there is nothing wrong with “young” it is simply an adjective describing a state of age!
To suppose that young=healthy, old = decrepit is to forget that young people can suffer from anxiety and are prone to mental illnesses. It’s to forget that older people (when they are not consigned to loneliness) can be brilliantly joyful.
In the two years since he wrote this article we have started seeing corporate images showing bungee-jumping grannies, I worry about this – you get brittle bones!
I prefer the video of the 90 year old nurse still working in an American Hospital (because she loves it) and of my mother walking the South West Coast Path in her eighties (700 miles +).
And I’d like to think that in another few years, we will have come to be more mature about simple things like old people enjoying sex.
Harold Steptoe’s line to his Dad Albert “you dirty old Man” should be a marker for how far we’ve moved on – not far enough IMO!
Enough of Harold and Albert, here is Jeroen in his pristine state of youth.
Ever since I started advising pension funds, I have heard trustees and consultants alike, bemoan the plight of DC savers and the pitfalls of default funds and conversion risks. The prevailing thought is that the general public lacks sufficient interest to make informed decisions. Pensions are just not interesting or sexy enough!
So how do we persuade the (wo)man on Main Street to take pensions seriously? How do we persuade people to save more for retirement? How do we make old age more attractive? How do we make pensions sexy?
Well, I think it already is. Retirement is no longer about slippers and allotments, knitting sweaters and curtain twitching. Current retirees are hedonistic baby-boomers who go around jet-setting the world, ready to experience life all over again. Advertisements for bungee jumping in South Africa, canyoning in Mexico or driving holidays in the Outback are specifically targeted at the silver surfers. Just google “centenarian acquiring a flying license” and see what older people are capable of.
And boy, do people of a certain vintage like to be adventurous: Many recent reports on the spread of STD’s have pointed out that the fastest growing and most at risk part of our population are the elderly.
So if the old have become foolish, have the young wised up? Unfortunately not, the young live the same hedonistic lifestyles, with foreign holidays, surfing, skiing and partying like it’s 1999, but with no savings.
What we need is new role-models; bring on promiscuous, bungee jumping granny, and throw out Alf Garnett. Well, maybe leave the geriatric partner swapping out, but retirement should change in the general consciousness of younger generations, into an exciting, new part of your life. Something to look forward to and something you want start with enough pocket money!
When I grew up during the 80s in Holland, one insurance company managed to do this very well; hiring well-known actors of a certain age, and filming/photographing advertisements in expensive or exotic locations. Speedboats, theaters, far-flung cities, etc, all featured in TV commercials and magazines. And the message was the same every time: I am having this fantastic life in retirement, because I saved for it.
So let’s roll out the cool oldies, engage the silver haired role models; Robert De Niro (72), Harrison Ford (73, and Jane Fonda (76) could all advertise saving for retirement and make it look fun, cool and above all, sexy.