WEDNESDAY, MAR. 23:
Islanders may have to keep working for years after they turn 65, experts
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.
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
The move is expected to save more than $7.8 billion over the next four
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.
“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.”