One of my principal considerations is to view the life path totally differently than we view it today.
Adults today need to consider several career-changes, which likely will need to continue in some form beyond the traditional age of retirement post-65.
With life expectancy now offering at least 10 years beyond what it offered in 1950, with the pensions model so deflated, we need to consider how we can support things, and also exploit the older human capital, whilst sustaining the social capital against the challenges of health care, well-being and economic issues.
More recent policy has pushed the agenda seemingly for economic reasons, arguably as a knee-jerk to demands for spending cuts, without considering the offsets of well-being and activity within the true community context – which has become fragmented and vulnerable because of short-term projects run by saviours dipping in and out, changing the habits of a few, rather than changing the practices of the majority.
Too many pubic community centres and libraries, for instance, feel like cast-offs from older regimes, drafty and small, in business terms, essentially unfit for purpose. It depends upon where one lives, as some of the remotest areas have thriving village halls, where all manner of things happen all the time, although they often have the sword of Damocles swinging not too far over their heads due to limitations on their support.
It is the limitation placed upon many of the potential actors and locations within the lifelong learning arena that clearly affects how they can serve their communities. Leaving responsibility in the hands of local bodies, who have to prioritise their spending is unfair and unrealistic. This is especially true when we are approaching one third of our population as being classed as ‘older adults’. Whilst the very elderly, requiring geriatric care, will need provision, what is yet to be accepted by society is that older adults are not the assumed societal burden and have much to give still, and they can be providers as well as consumers. This period of their lives could well be over two decades and rising – a smattering of tea-dances and bird-watching slideshows is an outmoded and insufficient resource for today’s communities and we have to change the whole perception we have.