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Friday, January 29, 2010

US National Survey Says Seniors Not Missing Out On Sex

A survey on sexuality among senior citizens revealed that men and women aged 57 to 85 engage in sex erasing misconception that physical intimacy declines with age.

Results of the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project research conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago showed that some 84 percent of men and 62 percent of women between 57 and 64 reported having sex in the past year,

For people between 75 to 85, 38 percent of men and 17 percent of women surveyed told they had sex during the same period.

The survey conducted from 2005 to 2006 covered 3,000 respondents who were asked about their sexual relationships the last five years.

The findings were published in The Journals of Gerontology.

The respondents defined sex as foreplay and vaginal intercourse, though they also reported engaging in oral sex.

More men aged 57 to 64 or about 62 percent reported having oral sex the previous year while 53 percent of women of the same age group tried it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Vote by sms for Senior Citizen for BIG MUMBAIKAR award

BIG FM 92.7 has nominated 2 Senior Citizen for BIG MUMBAIKAR Award.

We are extremely happy on Nomination of our member and well wisher of Silver Innings Mr.Mansukhlal V.Ruparelia age 75 yrs and Mrs.Monica Batra age 59yrs .This was possible due to our advocacy and support from Helpage India.

TO VOTE FOR Mr.Mansukhlal V.Ruparelia type - BIG MUMBAIKAR 05 and send this sms to 55454.

TO VOTE FOR Mrs.Monica Batra type - BIG MUMBAIKAR 04 and send this sms to 55454.

Pls note leave space between big ,mumbaikar ,05.
Mr.Mansukhlal V.Ruparelia is the senior most nomination for the award.

Know more about Mrs.Monica Batra:
Mrs.Monica Batra did her G.N.M. (general Nursing & Midwife) training from Jaipur in 1973. She came to Mumbai in 1984. She did private nursing duties & worked for 9 years at J J Dharmashala (OldAge Home), Mumbai. She was helping poor & destitute females & students.She took 1BHk flat on rented basis at Mira Road. There she put 3 ladies taken from street. One of them is schizophrenic. She try to help & rehabilate the street ladies. She also support poor students by way of paying their schoolfees & providing stationeries to them. She is one woman army who does this work on her own risk & capacity.

Know more about Mansukhlal.V.Ruparelia - "Retired" but "Not Tired":

Details on the work done
Mansukhlal Ruparelia was born on 1st March, 1934 in Karachi, now in Pakistan. Karachi, at that time was a very well-planned, nice, neat and tidy city, where people from all communities were living peacefully and happily. There were sufficient number of gardens, grounds and open spaces for children to play freely. His childhood passed very happily- playing and studying. He had large number of friends, ten of whom are in Mumbai and remain in contact through phone on every Sunday and meet on various family functions even after more than 61 years of leaving Karachi and cherish happy childhood memories.

His primary education up to Standard IV was in a nearby school about a mile away. A teacher used to come to take him and bring back. There was no heavy load of books, there were hardly one or two small books with slate & pen (like chalk). There were no note books, pencil, and pen for Primary classes. No uniform! These things were not even available freely in those days! Every thing was scare. People were not able to afford.

Mansukhlal was admitted to a very renowned Gandhian School called Shri Sharda Mandir. This was the foundation of his life. The medium of teaching was Gujarati his mother tongue. This school was like Ashram with bright airy classes covered with green creepers. Principal & Teachers were real Gurus and very much devoted with deep love towards children & Nation. In addition to education, their main aim was to develop good human beings with national spirit. It was always a pleasure to go & remain in school for as much more time, as possible.

He was bright at studies and was coaching weak students in free time, there were no tuition's or Classes in those time. Education was of very high standard. Games & extra-curricular activities were many. While he was in Std V at age of 13, India got Independence in 1947 and unfortunately faced the partition of the Country. They had leave Karachi in Oct, 47, incurring heavy losses and came to Morvi in Gujarat. There were difficulties in settling & ripe years of child-adult were spoiled. But further study was not affected.

At Morvi, in Gujarat, his family established a shop, but it was not enough for the family expense. As he was loved by his teachers, one of them suggested to his father that he should be sent to Mumbai for further studies and they shall take care of all his expenses. But his father did not agree and insisted on joining service, though he was only 16. Then same teacher got him a job in Railways immediately after his results. On formation of Western Railway by amalgamating of all railways in particular areas, he came to Mumbai in 1951. Passing departmental examinations in first attempts and getting promotions, he reached the psot of Joint Director in Indian Railway Personnel Service (IRPS-one of the IAS Central Services).

During his employment he passed B.A. and B.Com. by attending morning & evening colleges. He also passed 'Rashtra Bhasa Ratna' in Hindi and also appeared in IAS in 1960 and passed the written in the first attempt, though could not come in final panel. Throughout the career, he was liked by superiors and his colleagues' for being very prompt, sincere & straight forward.

After retirement, he took second career and joined a well-known Private Limited Company and worked their for 8 years and completed total employment of 50 years. One remarkable achievement he has to his credit that in the span of 50 years, he has not taken a single paisa or given any as bribe!!

His father had a big joint family and he was very much interested in reading. He inherited reading habit from him. His mother was very mild & straight forward and these two virtues came from her. He also developed liking for Music, traveling to different places and social service perhaps from the school.

As of now, he has collected almost 1000 books, 200 audio cassettes and many CD/VCD and enjoys reading and listening music. He has traveled the entire country and many places more than once. He is fond of photographs and has a big collection.

Mansukhlal day starts at 4'o clock in the morning and ends at 10'o clock in the night. He does Yoga-Pranayam, goes for Walking, goes to nearby Laughter club, Relaxes in afternoon, views Television for 1 1/2 hours, listening Music for about 3 hours, surfs computer, goes to Local Senior Citizen Association regularly for 1 hour daily, sees movies occasionally. Sunday he prefers to be with family.
When asked about the secret to his fitness he says "Eat less, walking, remain active, sleep early, get up early"

He is enjoying his Silver Years as Grand Parenting and loves his younger grand daughter calling him 'Hai Dadu' 'Dadu' or 'Morning Dadu' in different lovely tones with smiling & sparkling face. This he says increases his joy, spirit & of course life span too. He is happy and lucky to see his grand childrens are matured at tender age and care for the feelings of others! He wonder many a times as to from where they have picked up such good sanskars- from previous birth, genes or her surroundings!!

He also keeps himself busy by guiding in his grand children in studies and get important lesson from them on Computer problems. Dada-Dadi are happily living with constantly flowing love of all their six grandchildren and going ahead day by day at 75 and 72 with 50 years of happy married life!

After retiring from his Job Mansukhlal has taken Mission for life "Service To Senior Citizens". Earlier also during his employment he used to in some way or other would take up some social cause. In 1999, when National Policy of Older Persons was announced he approached organisation and media to take up the cause of Senior Citizens.

He contributes his knowledge and skill by addressing large number of issues pertaining to Senior Citizens like Health Problems, Insurance, Relief in Fees of Doctors and Cost of Medicines, More facilities & Concessions from Central, State & Municipal & other authorities, Financial Management, Will, Managing their spare time and creating awareness about their status and rights etc.

He utlises his time in being actively involve in (RTI) Right to Information movement and seeks information for welfare of citizens from Municipal corporation, Transport Authorities, and various Government departments. In this way he not only creates awareness but also helps the authority in addressing the issue.

He attends and contributes to various forums, meetings and workshops. He is also actively involved and is member of Associations of Senior Citizens and organisations like Retired Railway Employees Welfare Association (RREWA), Silver Innings, and Society for Serving Seniors Global to name few. Writing articles in various magazine and website on various issues keeps him busy and activates his mind for productive ageing. He is a true inspiration to all the elders and younger generation to be aged some day.

His friend and family say at 75 yrs. he is "Retired" But "NOT TIRED".

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Australian PM addresses ageing population

The prime minister has urged Australians to respond to the challenges of an ageing population in an address to an Australia Day reception in Melbourne.

Kevin Rudd warned that the nation would have to boost workforce participation and productivity to secure economic growth as the nation ages.

Between now and 2050, the proportion of Australians aged 65 and over will increase from around 14 per cent to 23 per cent.

This will lead to a dramatic change in the ratio of workers to retirees.

“Forty years ago, in 1970, the ratio was 7.5 people of working age to every person 65 and over,” said Mr Rudd.

“In 2010, the ratio is five to 1, and in 40 years' time, in 2050, it is projected to fall so far that there will be just 2.7 people of working age for each person aged 65 and over.”

“Unless we make big changes, we will either generate large, unsustainable budget deficits into the second quarter of the century, or else we'll need to reduce government services – including health services – as the needs of an ageing population become greater.”

According to the third Intergenerational Report, due to be released before this year’s budget, the average annual economic growth rate will fall to 2.7 per cent over the next 40 years if there is no concerted effort to boost productivity.

Aged Care Association Australia was pleased that the Prime Minister chose to focus on ageing in his first official address for 2010.

“Failure to plan now for the future impact of ageing will almost certainly mean reductions in health services, aged care services and social welfare,” said the association’s CEO, Rod Young.

“After spending a century developing and evolving our health, aged and social welfare services, it would be a social catastrophe to see these diminish or decline due to lack of strategic policy reform to address the impending social impact of an ageing population.”

The Australian Nursing Federation also welcomed the prime minister’s comments, saying a boost to aged care wages would achieve a two-fold benefit to an ageing Australia.

“Paying aged care nurses and carers a fair wage would not only ensure nursing home residents receive the care they require but it would also swell the number of women working in a sector that desperately needs more staff,” said federal secretary, Ged Kearney.

Ms Kearney said Australia is facing a 56 per cent rise in the number of nursing home residents by 2020 so it was essential to prepare today.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Are you unintentionally favouring one grandchild more than the others?

You’ve promised yourself you would never let it happen. But then you find yourself drawn more to one grandchild than the others. It happens to many of us. And it is, most often, not intentional.

Circumstances may influence the apparent favouritism. When one grandchild or set of grandchildren live close by while the others live some distance away, it can give the appearance the grandparents favour the local children because they are able to be more involved in the children’s lives.

A grandfather who raised all daughters may be so overjoyed at having a male heir that he dotes more on his grandson than on his granddaughter.

Personality also plays a role in the way grandparents react to their grandchildren. Sometimes you simply like one better than the other, or one rubs you the wrong way. The shy child who does not run up to you with a great big hug and a kiss can be neglected while his more outgoing sibling jumps into your arms and says “I love you so much, granny.” Or grandpa.

The advice from one psychiatrist is “to look at each child individually. Find each child’s strength or interest, and focus on that.”

Gift Giving and Hurt Feelings

At gift giving times children particularly notice any favouritism, especially if one child receives a well-thought out present while the others receive something more generic, like gift cards or a new jumper. It may seem like a small gesture, but a gift that recognises each child’s interests can go a long way. One grandfather I know buys a wall calendar for each grandchild. With a variety of different calendar subjects to choose from, he is able to find something to fit each child’s individual taste.

When grandparents play favourites, it can cause more than hurt feelings for the children. If only one grandchild is singled out as a favourite, it can cause a rift between siblings. If one set of grandchildren is favoured over the other family units, it can create hard feelings between cousins, making family gatherings unpleasant.

Who else suffers?

Grandchildren aren’t the only ones who suffer. Parents are also hurt when their children are slighted. Parents, however, do recognise if one child is picked out as the favourite, and it is up to them to be the advocate of all their children. They need to speak up and make sure the grandparents understand how it makes the other children feel. The grandparents and the parents can then work together to make sure every child knows they are loved.

One daughter-in-law writes that her parents-in-law increasingly favour the eldest of her two sons who is a “real people-pleaser.” They show his shy, younger brother little patience and simply refuse to engage with him. She has attempted to discuss her worries with her in-laws and has suggested various activities for just the younger son.

If their behaviour still seems troublesome, then the parents should make sure the younger one feels he is equally loved. His individuality needs to be nurtured. If he‘s aware of his mother becoming annoyed with her in-laws, it could highlight the unfair comparison with his brother. If she seems comfortable around the in-laws, he will relax and not be hurt, even if she is seething inside.

A grandparent’s attitude toward their own children can cause serious hurt. This happened in my own family. My mother-in-law very much favoured her younger son over his older brother and sister. She paid no attention to their offspring and only when the younger son’s children were born did she show grandmotherly love. She had though, at one time, promised the first granddaughter that she would bequeath her treasured watch to her in her will. When she died there was no mention of the watch or anything for the eldest granddaughter. Recently, and this was thirty years later, her mother said to me somewhat bitterly, that she didn’t care about the watch but her daughter “could have done, at least, with a keepsake.”

In the end, the overwhelming advice for grandparents is: “Remember that every grandchild wants to be loved, and it’s up to the grandparent to create the time for that.”


  • Be an active listener by picking up on what each child is saying
  • Learn each child’s favourite treat and make sure it is on hand whenever the child visits
  • Find special time for each grandchild, whether in person, with phone calls or with emails.
  • Have a special activity for each grandchild, something that only the two of you can share.
  • Make sure each child is displayed prominently and equally around the home. Nothing makes a child feel worse than seeing pictures of one cousin or sibling around the house but none of her.

Extract from “Playing Favourites” by Sue Marquette Poremba


Indian Seniors over 75 yrs may be barred from driving

The government is putting final touches to a major overhaul of driving norms in the country, which includes putting an upper age limit on people eligible to drive and making training from recognized driving schools mandatory for applicants wanting a driver's licence.

Officials said the new norms will transform the driver's licence from being a ‘proof of identity' to a ‘proof of skill'. The exercise is aimed at reducing road accidents in the country by making sure that only qualified people take to the wheel. Around 1.14 lakh people die on the roads in India, more than anywhere else in the world.

The proposed changes to the Motor Vehicle Act includes defining the maximum speed limit on highways. The changes are expected to be finalized by March.

The new norms, being devised by an expert committee set up by the ministry of road transport and highways, is weighing the option of barring people who are over 72-75 years old from getting a driving licence. The move, which is still under consideration, is likely to impact many active senior citizens who drive their own vehicles. The committee has also proposed not giving licences to 16 and 17-year-olds, who under the current rules are eligible to ride mopeds.

Another major impact of the proposals would be on smalltime driving schools, which could become a thing of the past.

Officials said that state transport departments could be bifurcated to ensure that only people with proper training only the licences. ``One agency will be responsible for training of drivers and the other will deal with issuing licences. We are looking into the suggestion of experts in this field to have recognised driving institutes with proper infrastructure in every states. In small states, there can be one training school and in bigger ones, there can be two such training schools,'' a senior official said.

These model training schools, to be set up by state governments with central assistance or under public-private partnership, will mandatorily train all aspiring drivers in the region.

All applicants would also need to get their eyes tested from an eye-specialist and get a fitness certificate from an MBBS doctor.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Seniors-over-75-yrs-may-be-barred-from-driving/articleshow/5450528.cms

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Recommendation for National Policy of Older Persons (NPOP) 1999 by Senior Citizens

From: M.V.Ruparelia, A503 Rashmi Utsav, Near Jangid Estate & Vijay Park, Mira Road(East) Dist. Thane. 401107. T.No. 022-28123691. M. 09821732855. Email: mvrup@yahoo.co.in

To Date: 18-12-09.

Shri Mukul Wasnik,

Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment,

Government of India, Shastri Bhawan, New Delhi-110001.

Dear Sir,

Sub: Reviewing the National Policy of Older Persons, 1999.

Ref: Your Ministry’s letter no. 15-37(6)/07-08/AG dt 20-11-09 in reply to my letter dt 27-5-09 to Prime Minister of India.

1. For our request to give a comprehensive plan for Senior Citizens covering all points enumerated in NPOP,99 and to create a Welfare Fund for Elders early, it has been advised in your above that 10 years have passed since the announcement of the Policy and that the Policy is being reviewed. It is hoped that the Policy is being reviewed after 10 years for making it more Elder-Friendly and not for adverse/down sizing amendments to this wonderful piece of Policy containing 98 Paras, covering all aspects of life of Elders of our Country. We request you to appoint a Committee of prominent Senior Citizens for this Review also, as was done for formation of this Policy.

2. As the Policy has not been implemented in right spirit by most of the Stake-Holders even after 10 years, resulting in Abuse of Elders of our Country, it is requested to propose a legislation defining the scope and duties of all Stake-Holders viz Nodal Ministry, other Central Ministries, State/UT authorities, Municipal-Panchayat authorities, Public Sector Undertakings, Major Corporates, Big Business Houses employing large number, Trusts, NGOs, Powerful Media etc. Even Chief Information Commissioner, Delhi expressed his displeasure on 27-6-08 in Case no. CIC/MA/A/2008/00645 of your Ministry that the Policy adopted is not effectively implemented resulting in Senior Citizens being deprived of the benefits assured to them. CIC directed your Ministry to clearly outline the Plan of Action & indicate its outcome for the LARGER BENEFITS OF THE SOCIETY. Your Ministry has not complied with this Statutory Directive of CIC, Delhi so far even after 18 MONTHS! While reviewing, the Nodal Ministry has to be provided with wide powers (teeth) to get implementation done as per fixed targets. This is absolutely necessary, as Nodal Ministry continues to be of the view that this Policy is only a guiding factor and its role is only of persuasive nature and it can not direct the implementing agencies to implement a particular provision within a fixed target ( Ministry’s letter of same no. dt 11-7-08). Most of Central Ministries feel and act indifferently and even give in writing that they are not concerned with this Policy and it is only the Nodal Ministry, which has to take action. Some Ministry has even said that they have not seen the Policy even in the year 2008-09! Most of the States & Union Territories have not yet adopted this Policy even after 10 years nor have constituted State Councils. No other Stake- Holders have been told in writing so far about their role in this Policy by Nodal Ministry or any other Ministry. Nodal Ministry is refusing/regretting to issue any instructions to any of these Stake-Holders but expects that they will do their part! Just as it is statutorily provided in Parents & Senior Citizen’s Welfare Act, 2007 to provide at least one Oldmen`s House(should be called Senior Citizens Homes) in each district, legislation must be provided to provide various facilities by Municipality/Panchayat/States within a stipulated time, as laid down in your Integrated Programme. Creation of a separate Ministry, as demanded by several Organizations may also be considered at this stage for expeditious implementation of this all-aspects-covering Policy. Separate Directorates must be provided in each Ministry and State/Municipal offices for Senior Citizens.

3. Majority of Senior Citizens are sober, introvert, aloof type, God fearing and resigned to FATE! Most are not inclined to adapt new active Life Style after retirement and many feel that now they have to rest and wait for their turn to go up etc! It is therefore necessary for the Government and the Society/Media to enthuse this lot of citizens, who are large in number and going to survive for long even without their wishing! Keeping in view the economic progress of the Country and deteriorating financial position of Senior Citizens due to reduction of interest rates and surmounting dearness for food items & bare necessities, Policy has to provide concrete action plans, if necessary by legislation also, to ensure financial security; healthy life; social interaction opportunities; proper utilization tasks for Senior Citizens ; more liberal provisions in all matters for older old(80 & above); special colonies for Senior Citizens; large number of Day Care Centers, Holiday Homes/Resorts/Convalescent Homes; concessions in entertainment places, travels, hotels, resorts etc; well defined detailed role of Media, early creation of National Association of Older Persons(NAOP) at Center & State/District/Locality level and fixing tasks to be carried out by such Associations. Little force/compulsion has to be used to get results and this should not be shied away, keeping in view how Smoking in trains & Public Places and Processions on Public Roads were curbed by force/legislation giving valuable advantages to the entire Community.

4. The following suggestions may also be kept in view, while reviewing this Grand Policy:-

i) No provision/para of this Policy may be deleted/downsized in any manner, as all Paras cover very important aspects of life of Senior Citizens.

ii) Demographic Trends: As per latest trends, number of Senior Citizens not only in India but in the entire World shall exceed number of Children/Youths in next few years. In view of this, the Policy has to be more liberal and more caring for elders, which will also form a big Electoral Force. The expectation of Policy,99 about life span of 67 years in 2011-16 has been surpassed and it may cross 100 in those years. Keeping in view this huge number with longer life span, Revised Policy should cater seriously for welfare of this and also provide different avenues of their useful utilization. As there will be large number of Older Old (above 80), special & specific provision for them in the Revised Policy shall be necessary.

iii) Financial Security: As we have adopted Global Capitalistic System, there shall be more poor and less rich and this can not be helped in view of the present trend of Economic Development. As there will be more BPL Senior Citizens and as the position of Above Poverty Line but not coming within Income Tax Limit Senior Citizens shall also be precarious, the Policy has to provide specific Financial Security for both the groups. The present system of classifying Senior Citizens as BPL is defective and needs immediate change, as detailed in my letter dt 13-10-09 to P.M. (copy enclosed –Annexure I). The present quantum of Rs 200 by Central and similar contribution by State is a mockery of human being and World Organizations must be laughing at this gesture of such a wealthy country on way to become number one and as such sufficient pension for a human may be laid down in revised Policy for BPL & APL Senior Citizens. The proposed New Tax Law from 2011-12 is another blow on Financial Security of Senior Citizens and specific provisions in new Policy exempting Senior Citizens from adverse provisions shall be necessary, considering all points raised in my letter dt 12-9-09 (copy enclosed –Annexure II). Unless, Nodal Ministry makes out a very strong case for Financial Security to all BPL & APL Senior Citizens, depicting the miseries they will be facing in the coming years with declining income and mounting expenditure for food & bear necessities, majority of Elders of our Country can not think of decent & dignified life. Employment should be allowed to be continued till Senior Citizens desire and are fit to work and age bar must be removed. Retired employees of the Government, Public Sector and big Business Houses must be statutorily provided same facilities as serving employees to avoid financial burden on only the Government. Even as per present Policy, all Departments and Employers should be asked to provide various facilities to their retired staff, as asked by Nodal Ministry to Railway Ministry as brought out in Annexure III.

iv) Health Care & Nutrition: As the Life-Span shall increase and number of older old increases, it will be necessary to provide more and more free/subsidized health services to all Senior Citizens. In addition to free service by State/Municipal Hospitals, Private Hospitals, Trusts etc will have to be made to provide subsidized service to Senior Citizens and pay special attention to Senior Citizens, if necessary by legislation. A controlling authority like IRDA shall be absolutely necessary for private Hospitals to control prices of various facilities, operations etc. In addition to present Health Insurance Schemes for unorganized sector BPL Senior Citizens, similar provision is required to be made for similar scheme for APL Senior Citizens also. Appropriate Medi-Claim Insurance with affordable premium from private sector for all Senior Citizens desiring the same should be provided, if necessary through proper legislation. Concrete steps to provide Geriatric Care, Physiotherapy, House Call System, Free/Subsidized Mid-Day Meals, Dinners etc for nutrition, as provided to children at present etc will have to be provided. Medicines must be provided at subsidized cost. Separate ques for Senior Citizens are not yet provided in any of Hospitals of Health Ministry at Delhi, which indicates the attitude of Central Ministries towards this Policy. Separate ques for Hospitals, Dispensaries, Pathological Laboratories, Private Clinics, Banks, Post Offices and all places requiring such ques must be provided, if necessary by legislation. Doctors & Para-Medical staff must be given special training for geriatric care and proper behavior with elders.

v) Shelter: Special colonies with full facilities should be provided by legislation instead of simply making a provision in the Policy for encouraging the private builders! Certain quotas in all buildings like Chief Minister’s quota must be provided for Senior Citizens. Just as specific space is to be left for garden etc in each colony by legislation, provision should be made for encouraging/enforcing all builders to provide special colonies and facilities for Senior Citizens. More & more houses should be available for Senior Citizens on rent basis. Housing Boards must also give preference to Senior Citizens. Big colonies must have Day Care Centers.

vi) Welfare & other areas: As stated earlier, most of Senior Citizens having inertia & having resigned to fate, it is necessary that they are encouraged/forced to become members of their Government recognized Associations of their locality and then only issued all-India Identity Cards for various concessions. This will ensure their social inter action and improve their life styles. Each Association at all levels should be assigned specific tasks like having full details of all Senior Citizens of their area (Census); Civic problems of their area (LAM); Social Programmes like Polio eradication; Participating in all advisory committees of State/Railway/Municipal/Banks etc; Inculcating Value Systems in children through lectures, programmes, picnics etc with school children continuously; helping in grievance solving of Senior Citizens & other citizens of area etc. Each Association should be provided with sufficient accommodation with usual facilities of Day Care Center with Gym / Physiotherapy facilities, Grant-in-Aid, ensuring sending by all concerned all orders/circulars affecting Senior Citizens. Your Web-Site and Web-Sites of all concerned must be kept up to date and should have on-line grievance recording with status position. Your Web-Site does not contain all the facilities/concessions given to Senior Citizens by your Ministry & all other stake holders, though provided in the Policy and proclaimed by your Ministry to contain all information. There is a need for your Ministry to publish a Monthly Magazine or a Newsletter giving all information from time to time. Sufficient reservation in Transport Services is not provided, which must be done keeping in view the good effect of traveling. Railways, though the lifeline of the country, have not provided any reservation for Senior Citizens, except 2 berths along with women of 45 years and that too when traveling alone! No separate coach in suburban trains inspite of repeated representations is provided, though special suburban trains are being provided day in and day out, though not going fully packed. Senior Citizens are more handicapped and more in numbers to handicapped but are deprived of this facility given to handicaps. Representations/complaints/ court cases of Senior Citizens are not being given any priority. There is much talk about PPP and CSR and advantage of this should be given for facilities to Senior Citizens by providing some compulsory/voluntary action by corporate world. New policy must provide for Self Development of Senior Citizens. Many more Nana-Nani Parks, Recreation Centers etc should be provided with time schedule.

vii) Media: No action is taken by Nodal or Ministry of Information & Broadcasting to involve Media for creating proper atmosphere in the Society or Government Machinery to highlight the problems of Senior Citizens, as laid down in the Policy,99. New Policy must realize the importance of this powerful IVth Estate of our Democracy and give specific tasks to Media. Each Newspaper must give one page/a corner every day or atleast some days in a week exclusively for matters pertaining to Senior Citizens. Each TV channel should also give a fixed slot every day for Senior Citizens. Ministry of I & B must also give programmes for Senior Citizens at fixed days and timings instead of any time they like, as is being done at present. They had asked for literature and soft wear etc related to issues pertaining to Senior Citizens in Inter-Ministerial Committee held on 28-3-07. In absence of such material by Nodal Ministry to various Stake Holders, it is difficult to provide programmes for Senior Citizens. Senior Citizens must be encouraged and paid honorarium for writing in Newspapers and participating in TV programmes.

viii) Implementation: Nodal Ministry & other Central Ministries and States have failed miserably to comply with various Paras (91 to 95) of Policy,99 for implementation, especially para 93, which gives unambiguous orders for implementation by fixing targets. New Policy, if necessary must give statutory orders to all Stake-Holders in clear terms to do their part of job sincerely, speedily and seriously. As NCOP and SCOVA etc have miserably failed, it is requested to form NAOP (National Association of Older Persons) laid down in para 96 with full powers to negotiate with you and specific duties, as enumerated above. Earlier this is done, it would be better for the Government, Society and Senior Citizens. Similar Associations at grass route levels may also be expedited.

It is hoped that review will not be finalized without consulting the prominent representatives of Senior Citizens and their Organizations and without notifying the proposed changes in media for information/comments of all citizens.

Thanking You,

Yours Sincerely,


Annexure I.

To Date: 13-10-09.

Dr. Man Mohan Singhji,

Hon. Prime Minister of India,

South Block, New Delhi-101101.

Respected Sir,

Sub: Payment of Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension (IGNOAPS) launched on 19-11-07.

You were kind enough to launch the above scheme for benefit of all Senior Citizens of 65 years and above living below poverty line as a Social Security Scheme and Support System. The Ministry of Rural Development issued instructions to States to grant this megre Pension to those citizens, who are 65 and above and belong to a household below the poverty line, which is decided as per their guidelines for BPL Census, 2002. In these guidelines, 13 socio-economic parameters were prescribed to identify relative position of each family in rural area by giving variable scores from village to village depending upon local conditions for targeting people under Ministry`s Rural BPL Programmes. No such guidelines are issued by Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation for classifying an urban citizen as BPL. 13 socio-economic parameters may be useful to Ministry Of Rural Development for launching a particular scheme in a particular village or for a particular family but in no way can help in deciding the eligibility to pay megre monthly Pension to Senior Citizens of 65 & above having megre income or staying hand to mouth in their last spell of life. How far such house to house survey applying 13 complicated parameters having 4 different scoring can be useful to decide eligibility for monthly Pension to Senior Citizens? There is no necessity of targeting Senior Citizens neither for paying IGNOAPS nor to fix their interse eligibility. More over, such guidelines go on changing for every Five Year Plan Period. We may give one example to consider the impracticality of such guidelines. In the very well developed suburb of Mira Road of Mumbai, there are more than 4 lakhs of citizens having more than 80 thousand Senior Citizens, out of which 50 thousand are above 65 and more than 20 thousand are living below poverty line and pass their last spell of life hand to mouth. The number of all BPL Families, including citizens above 65 for this Area are only 17-seventeen, as advised by Municipal Corporation vide their letter no. ja.kra.manapa/sujayo/7/2009-10

dt 14-8-09. It would be clear from this that eligible Senior Citizens are not classified as belonging to BPL Families and not paid megre Pension due to complicated procedures causing corruption at various levels. Considering the poverty lines of each State, a financial income limit per month or per annum should be fixed for paying this megre Pension to Senior Citizens irrespective of their family income, as Senior Citizens staying in joint families and having no income or megre income are not properly looked after by children and not paid any pocket money etc. State of Maharashtra has fixed Rs. 21000 p.a. for their Schemes.

You will be surprised to know that there is no definition of Below Poverty Individual or Family either with Ministry of Rural Development or Planning Commission. The Planning Commission estimates the number and percentage of poor at National & State levels on the basis of rough and large sample survey data on house hold consumer expenditure at All-India figure of Rs 356.30 in Rural and Rs 538.60 in Urban Areas

(Press Information Bureau Estimates notified on 21-3-07).Such rough estimation can be used for providing Budget etc but not for deciding eligibility for payment of megre Pension to Senior Citizens of 65 and above.

In view of the above position and there being 3 Ministries of Rural Development, Housing and Planning Commission, it is requested that this simple work of payment to Senior Citizens may be assigned to the one concerned Ministry by fixing definition of Poverty Line (Maharashtra has fixed Rs.21000 p.a. for their Schemes) and not insisting on the unwarranted condition of belonging to BPL Family. Kindly get the financial income limit etc fixed to avoid corruption at various levels and procedure laid down for easy and early payment of this megre Pension to all eligible Senior Citizens.

Thanking You,

Yours Sincerely,


Annexure II.

To Date. 12-9-2009.

Shri Pranav Mukherji,

Hon. Minister of Finance, Government of India,

North Block, New Delhi-110 011.

Respected Sir,

Sub: Direct Tax Code, 2009 & Discussion Paper notified on 12-8-09.

It is heartening to note that You have started the much-needed work of discarding the complicated Income Tax Act, inherited from Britishraj, by introducing Unified Tax Law in simple language for reducing the scope of litigation. It is very much necessary that all Ministers follow your foot-steps and give simple Laws/Rules to the Nation for their Ministries. e.g. for expeditious dealing of Court Cases, One Personal Law for all irrespective of caste, creed or religion, Respect for our Culture & Elders etc.

Please, accept our congratulations for suggesting quite law rates of Income Tax for all sectors based on sound policies and practices followed by various countries of the World. Principles laid down in Paras 3.2; 3.4; 3.5 and 4.1 in Discussion Paper are really appreciable and indicate your humane approach.

We, the Senior Citizens of India would like to bring out the followings considerations to your personal notice for needful early action.

1. In our country, there are no Pensions or Free/Concessional Medical Facilities etc for retired/unemployed citizens, as in developed countries even after 61 years of Independence and tremendous economic progress. Income of Senior Citizens gets reduced day by day due to deteriorating interest rates and unbearable dearness for food items and medical facilities. They do not enjoy fully Public Goods and Services provided by Government for citizens (Para 4.1 of Discussion Paper) due to immobility and many other factors. Their ability to pay Tax (Para 3.2) gets reduced after retirement and from year to year due to less income, more expenditure on food & medicines. Their Net Worth (Para 3.4) gets reduced considerably as at the beginning of the year. There are many other factors, which also require to be considered and all Senior Citizens should be completely exempted from paying Income Tax. They have paid a lot of Tax for 30-40 years during their earning period and worked hard for achieving Independence as well as present Economic Growth. If complete exemption can not be allowed, exemption up to 5 lakhs instead of only 2.40 may be considered sympathetically.

2. As per Para 12.4 of Discussion Paper, you have given some incentives for savings and hoped that people will be encouraged to save. In view of your EET proposal and permitting the savings in only 4 Savings Intermediaries, how is it expected that any one would like to invest willingly? All contributions in all kinds of P.F. will also be taxed at the time of withdrawal. Keeping savings in P.F. till retirement is otherwise also compulsory, as they have no other alternative. Now keeping in Retirement Benefit Account to avoid tax will be a big burden on retiring person, who has to use his savings for marriage of daughters or for medical treatment etc. EET and restriction of 4 Saving Intermediaries shall kill the incentive to voluntary and additional savings and people would prefer to pay tax in the current year instead of at the time of their need in future years. People will try their best to show less income and hoard money instead saving for productive progress of the Country. Senior Citizens, whose income is getting from year to year due to reduction in rates of interest, prevailing and expected rise in cost of living and medical treatment, will be at a very great disadvantage by EET rule. Though, limit of savings is proposed to be increased to 3 lakhs, Senior Citizens will be discouraged to save anything due to EET and thus will loose present incentive of getting rebate for saving of Rs 1 lakh and will have to pay more tax to the extant of not saving due to EET. Keeping in view their deteriorating financial and physical condition from year to year and keeping in view their capability to pay tax and to ensure that their Net Worth does not get reduced, as provided in Paras 3.2 and 3.4 of Discussion Paper, rule of EET may not be applied to Senior Citizens.

3. As per definition of salary, all perks are also included in salary. This will be an additional burden on retired staff, who are enjoying free or concessional medical treatment and free or concessional traveling facilities etc after retirement as per their service conditions at the time of appointment. Senior Citizens need medical treatment as a natural consequence to ageing and travel for pilgrimage or for compulsory social obligations and as such, they should be exempted from tax on such facilities, keeping in view their reduced financial capacity.

4. As per Para 7.3 of Discussion Paper, some deductions are allowed to serving employees from their income. In absence of any employment and utilization of Senior Citizens by Government, it is necessary for Senior Citizens to go somewhere or other compulsorily to pass their time usefully like going to temples, associations, pilgrimage, doctors, hospitals etc. They should also be given some annual allowance.

5. Para 12.13 provides rebate up to Rs 60000 for treatment for prescribed diseases. Prescribed diseases are not mentioned in Code or Discussion Paper. This may be done. As all Senior Citizens are suffering from some ailment or other due to ageing, this provision should apply to all medical expenses and not restricted to prescribed diseases only. As medical treatment is very costly, this limit of 60000 should separately apply to self and dependent spouse. As ailments due to ageing is beyond control of Senior Citizens, this is a disability and provisions of Para 12.14 as handicapped may also be applied to Senior Citizens.

6. Para 12.18 gives rebate to self employed persons for rent in excess of 10%. Similar rebate may be given to Senior Citizens staying in rented houses.

7. Sec 67 of the Code allows deduction for fees of 2 children. There are certain families in which children are not earning much and depend upon their parents. In such cases, if any Senior Citizens pay such fees for 2 grand children, they should be allowed this deduction. Similar deduction for payment of Insurance Premium in Sec 69(3) by Senior Citizens for their children or grand children may also be allowed to them.

8. Sec 200 of the Code makes it compulsory for deduction of Tax at source above Rs 10000 from one source. It is difficult for Senior Citizens to obtain certificate for exemption from Assessment Officer every year. Present practice or similar practice as Form 15 H etc may be continued for Senior Citizens.

Above factors may kindly be considered sympathetically and proper care of Elders may please be taken.

Thanking You,

Yours Sincerely,


Annexure III.

Annexure showing Action required to be taken on various Paras of NPOP,99 by all Government Departments/Public Sector/Big Business Houses etc, as advised to Railway Department by Ministry of S.J. & E. :-

ii) Para 35: To expand the health services in various Railways including other independent Units for preventive, rehabilitative and geriatric care facilities for retired employees.

iii) Para 39: To issue instructions for separate ques for retired employees and to ensure its implementation by monitoring and/or reiterating instructions. Geriatric wards are to be set up in all Railway Hospitals.

iv) Para 40, 41, 86: To issue instructions for training of Railway Doctors & other Para-Medical staff for proper care and respect for retired employees. To provide Mobile care and hospice care for bed ridden employees in various hospitals.

v) Para 42 & 43: To issue instructional/guidance/nutritional material on self care of retired employees.

vi) Para 44 & 45: To issue instructions to promote healthy ageing amongst the retired staff. To issue instructions to treat their retired elders properly and to educate them for healthy ageing and to provide facilities of yoga, meditation etc. There should be proper education programmes for retired staff and they should be taken on Advisory Committees to bring out difficulties faced by them in getting treatment, keeping in view the spirit of NPOP, 99. Repeated orientation training and instructions to treat retired staff with respect by Doctors and staff are necessary.

vii) Para 46: To provide Counseling facilities in various hospitals.


vii) Para 68: a) To persuade Railways to give 50% concession to all Senior Citizens, as by Air & State Road Transport without distinguishing between Gents & Ladies.

b) No quota is fixed for reservation for Senior Citizens in any of the trains, though large quotas are fixed for ladies, handicaps, military & VIPs. Senior Citizens above 70-75 are more vulnerable than handicaps and ladies.

c) In suburban trains also, not only some compartments but entire trains are reserved for ladies but Senior Citizens are denied a small separate coach, as given to handicaps. With the deteriorating health condition, when they are required to go to doctors, consultants, Hospitals etc in the morning for pathological tests, they are facing hardships and as such, they should be provided separate coach or permitted to go in coaches/trains reserved for ladies & handicaps.

d) Railways are having large number of Holiday Homes, Rest Houses, Convalescent Homes etc and not given concessions in rent though provision of this para provides for concession to Senior Citizens.

viii) Para 70: Railways are having a big Publicity Department but no instructions are issued by Ministry to Railways to highlight the issues pertaining to their retired staff every year on 1st October and call them on that occasion for Get-Together and meeting each other and know about their problems etc. Existing Welfare Branches at Ministry as well as local levels can be instructed to do needful, as envisaged in various Paras of the Policy.

ix) Para 73: Railways are having well organized Personnel Department with Efficient Negotiating Machinery. They may be pursued to have continuous dialogue with NGOs doing welfare of Senior Citizens of Railways and recognize/encourage Associations of Senior Citizens of Railways by giving accommodation, place for their meetings etc. They have large number of Welfare Centres through out the Country and these can be allowed for retired staff & their Association of Senior Citizens.

x) Para 76: Railways can set up voluntary programmes for participation of retired staff in their various programmes, celebrations of Railway Week etc. They can also provide Colonies for Retired Staff with basic facilities.

xi) Para 78 & 79: Railway work is specialized one and retired staff is well trained to tackle various works efficiently. Railways need trained staff in different circumstances and also during vacation period, there is lot of absenteeism. Retired staff should be engaged freely. Instructions should be issued by Ministry of Railways to utilize capable retired staff and enrich & update their knowledge.

xii) Para 93: Annual Plan & Five Year Plan for implementing various provisions of the Policy are required to be prepared.

Life Long Reverse Mortgage Scheme for Senior Citizens

Now, Central Bank of India & Star Union Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co. Ltd. have launched an Annuity Product called Cent Swabhiman Plus on 10-12-09.

This is Reverse Mortgage Loan Annuity (RMLA)- a unique & tailor-made product facilitating Senior Citizens to avail regular payments throughout life till both die, as against 15/20 years by other Schemes and that too with substantially higher payments than other Schemes. Rate of interest charged is 9.5(to be reset every 2 years) in place of 10.25 to 12% in other Schemes.

60 to 75% of property value(to be revalued every 3 years) is considered for giving annuity, which can be taken at 25% as lump sum and remaining or full amount in monthly, quarterly, annually etc, as desired by borrower.

The borrower should be of 60 & above and spouse 55 & above. Payment will be made by Insurance Company & not Central Bank.

Keeping in view 2 schemes of repurchase of the mortgaged property by heirs, monthly payment per lakh works out to Rs. 396 or Rs 288 p.m. for property value of Rs 1 lakh. On death of the borrower, little higher payment is made to the surviving spouse. Payments made under this Annuity Scheme is taxable.

Posted by M.V.Ruparelia

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Prepare Now To Escape Obama’s Retirement Trap

Retiree Annuities May be Promoted by Obama Aids - In Other Words, There's No One Left To Buy Treasuries and Fund Our Deficit Except You - Stephanie Jasky

As the United States moves into a new decade of military overreach abroad and national bankruptcy at home, Washington is in a desperate search for more revenue and a solution to the future financing of the trillions in national debt obligations currently held by foreign central banks and investors. Economists, politicians and smart investors know the dollar's days as the world reserve currency are numbered as is our ability to finance the national debt.

Although the historical government solution to unsustainable government debt loads has always been the destruction of the debts by currency depreciation and eventual hyperinflation, there is always an intermediate step used to buy more time for the politicians in power. This action, usually sidestepped and downplayed by the establishment historians paid to hide the real facts of history is wealth confiscation. Napoleon had it right when he stated, "History is a state of lies agreed upon."

The largest source of liquid private wealth remaining in the United States are the $15 trillion in private retirement funds and the ultimate ownership, control and future of these funds have already been compromised and exchanged for the favorable tax treatment of private retirement plans. Congress writes the laws, so they can tax, penalize, hold your funds hostage and although they'd never use the word, "confiscate" your assets at their discretion.

The retirement trap I'm writing about is only a proposal at the present time and since it may well begin in the latter years of the Obama Administration assuming the Democrats can somehow maintain their majorities in Congress, I'm calling it the "Obama Retirement Trap". But make no mistake, the government need for current revenue and their frenzied search for a short-term fix to fund a backstop of liquidity to buy future government debt obligations when no credible investors will buy them is an unspoken quest of both political parties. The establishments of both political parties will do anything to stay in power and this will include raiding and pillaging your retirement funds.

Washington Proposals For A Mandatory Guaranteed Retirement Annuity

The government is getting ready to use that power and in a remarkably cunning way.

The prototype for their plan was devised in 1991 by Alicia H. Munnell, then Director of Research for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. She presented the idea in a paper entitled “Current Taxation of Qualified Pension Plans: Has the Time Come?” Later she was promoted to Assistant Treasury Secretary, and along with Robert Reich, Henry Cisneros and Hillary Clinton, she began to plot a raid on retirement funds. One element of the scheme was to create a Mandatory Pension System and fund it with a one-time 15% tax on retirement assets and a recurring 15% tax on retirement plan income.

I warned about this in my 1994 book, “Escape the Pension Trap”. Fortunately, the GOP election victory that same year derailed the Mandatory Pension System.

Guess what? It’s back... and nicely repackaged. It’s back because, due to slumping tax collection, Washington is on a desperate search for a new revenue stream. And this time they don’t want to just tax your retirement assets, they’re out to take them.

By Ron Holland

Read more: http://www.countercurrents.org/holland110110.htm

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

If people live to be 100,Here Is What Life Might Look Like

So You Want to Live to 100? More of Us Will, and Here Is What Life Might Look Like

If your children happened to be born since the year 2000 in developed countries, they will most likely live to be 100, and they will be healthier than elderly people in previous generations, according to a recent article in the medical journal The Lancet.

The implications are enormous for everything from retirement planning and health care costs to new models for the workplace and innovative approaches to education. As Olivia Mitchell, professor of insurance and risk management, states: "This is a demographic revolution the likes of which we have never seen before on earth."

Add to this observation the fact that economists have trouble predicting what fourth quarter GDP will be, let alone a vision of the world several generations out, and it becomes clear that this latest research will pose unique challenges for governments around the world. "If people knew they would live to be 100, they might want to organize their lives very differently," says James W. Vaupel, a co-author of The Lancet study and founding director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany. "It means we will need radical changes in public policy."

A Different Rhythm to Life

According to The Lancet researchers, the gain of about 30 years in life expectancy in Western Europe, the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand -- and even more in Japan, Spain and Italy -- "stands out as one of the most important accomplishments of the 20th century." Furthermore, most babies born since 2000 in these countries will "celebrate their 100th birthdays if the present yearly growth in life expectancy continues through the 21st century." The authors expect that it will: "Continued progress in the longest living populations suggests that we are not close to a limit, and [a] further rise in life expectancy seems likely."

Given that individuals over the coming decade may routinely expect to work well into their 70s and 80s, what kind of environment can they look forward to? "The good news is that the world of work is changing by itself" in ways that will make it more receptive to older employees, says Peter Cappelli, director of Wharton's Center for Human Resources. "It's already easier to work at a distance, easier to telecommute.... The physical demands [of many jobs] are falling, commitments are shorter-term, outsourcing of all kinds is on the rise and there is more contract work -- all of which makes it simpler for people to come in and out of the workplace, at least in principle..... The question is, to what extent will employers actually embrace older workers and incorporate more flexibility with respect to schedules, less supervision and more empowerment?"

One potential hang-up centers on the fact that older workers, as they stay on the job longer, are likely to be increasingly supervised by younger managers, says Cappelli. In addition to harboring "a kind of tacit discrimination against older employees, young people also have real concerns as to how they go about managing somebody who has more experience than they do. That's a challenge not many people intuitively understand how to deal with." Vaupel concurs, adding that as people work more years of their lives, but for fewer hours per week, the workplace will need to "become friendlier and more accepting of older workers" by, for example, accommodating their desires to work out of, or near, their homes, and by changing potentially hostile attitudes among younger workers toward older employees. Several studies have shown that "in some workplace environments, younger people try to force older people out. That has to change," he says.

The authors of The Lancet article -- titled "Ageing Populations: The Challenges Ahead" and led by Kaare Christensen, a professor at the Danish Ageing Research Centre at the University of Southern Denmark -- suggest another potential change in both the employment landscape and people's lifestyles. "Improvements in health and functioning along with shifting of employment from jobs that need strength to jobs needing knowledge imply that a rising proportion of people in their 60s and 70s are capable of contributing to the economy. Because many [of these] people would prefer part-time work to full-time work, a [growth] in jobs that need 15, 20 or 25 hours of work a week seems likely."

And if elderly people increasingly choose to work part-time, then more opportunities for part-time work might open up for young people as well. The 20th century, the article states, was "a century of redistribution of income. The 21st century could be a century of redistribution of work" in which employment would be spread "more evenly across populations and over the ages of life. Individuals could combine work, education, leisure and child rearing in varying amounts at different ages."

Gabriele Doblhammer-Reiter, executive director of the Rostock Center for the Study of Demographic Change in Rostock, Germany, and a co-author of the article along with Christensen, Vaupel and colleague Ronald Rau, sees this potential redistribution of work as a positive outcome. "If older people work part-time, could young people work part-time as well?" she asks. "If that is possible, it would be wonderful because at the moment, the majority of working hours [occur] at times when we have so many other responsibilities, such as raising a family." Wharton management professor Nancy Rothbard sees organizations allowing employees to reprioritize different aspects of their jobs at different times -- perhaps concentrating on tasks or specialties that no longer require the same expertise that was needed earlier on -- or perhaps going back to school and retooling. It is especially important to keep up with the technology skills demanded in one's job or profession. Older workers, she says, "have a wealth of experience and breadth of knowledge that is impressive and can be extraordinarily valuable. That has to be balanced with the need to remain current."

Predictions about the future of the workplace depend on the individual country. "The U.S. differs from Japan and Europe in that the U.S. still has a fairly young labor force, in part because of high birth rates and a large number of immigrants," says Vaupel. "But in Europe and Japan, there will be a real shortage of workers in the coming decades. This means that companies will be trying to keep older people in the workforce and encourage retirees to come back. Managers are already beginning to think about how to ensure some reeducation among older workers" -- just as younger people frequently receive on-the-job training to help them sharpen existing skills and acquire new ones.

Mitchell goes a step further. "The real challenge of living to be 100 will be to systematically weave financial literacy into elementary, middle and high school programs," she says. "We need to get people to think differently about investing in themselves, in their human capital. Individuals will need to assemble a tool kit that will get them not only a first job or prepare them for a 20-year career, but help them fashion several different 20-year careers over a lifetime." This will require a very different approach to education, she adds, one that will "get people back to school periodically and teach them to keep learning, instead of just having knowledge frozen" at one point in their lives.

Indeed, her biggest concern about the new mortality projections is "the very difficult time that the average worker has understanding basic economics, much less longevity risk. Life expectancy now is close to 80, yet less than 20% of the American population in their 50s has even tried to design a retirement plan. If you add another 20 years on top of that, then people need to become much more [knowledgeable] about saving and investing for retirement."

Raising, or Eliminating, the Retirement Age

If people live to be 100, how will that affect the retirement and health insurance systems set up to help individuals through the last decades of their lives?

As it is now, different countries have different retirement policies. In the U.S., there is no mandatory retirement -- with the exception of certain job categories such as commercial airline pilots, some judges and some top-level management -- and, in fact, in most jobs it is illegal to force people to retire. But numerous signposts act as "de facto" retirement inducers, says Mitchell. For instance, under the U.S. Social Security system, the "normal" retirement age is defined as 65 (eventually moving up to 67). The official use of the term "normal" was intended to mean the age at which someone could begin collecting unreduced benefits, but over time it became a reference age automatically associated with leaving work. Another example of this is that the system currently allows one to claim benefits as young as age 62 (though payments are reduced). "My concern is that by codifying age 62 as the age at which one can begin receiving Social Security, this age becomes a target. In fact, the typical American claims benefits at age 62, even though many would benefit substantially by delaying claiming."

In the next few years, Mitchell argues that "retirement ages will have to rise quite substantially, to 70 or beyond, to finance the baby boom generation as it moves up through the age structure." When Social Security was put in place in the 1930s, she says, "life expectancy was a lot shorter. In fact, we adopted our concept of the 'normal' retirement age from the German system which set the age of retirement at 65 because half the people never lived that long. That was a true social insurance scheme; it only covered those who outlived their life expectancy." Over time, Mitchell notes, "the U.S. transitioned from thinking about Social Security as a longevity insurance scheme, to using it as a transfer program that pays people not to work for 30 to 40 years. As life expectancies rise, and fewer young people are available to pay taxes, it gets more and more expensive to sustain the scheme. If we are to finance longer life spans, we will have to train smarter, work longer, save more for our own retirement, and restructure Social Security as the longevity insurance program it was intended to be." Retirement, Mitchell adds, "isn't going to be as appealing for future generations, as it has been for our parents."

According to Kent Smetters, Wharton professor of insurance and risk management, the Social Security and Medicare trustees have already incorporated increases in longevity in planning for payments to senior citizens. "The big debate is over whether they are incorporating enough of an increase." Longevity is an important variable, he says, because under current law, "the retirement age is not automatically indexed to increases in longevity," meaning that a larger and larger fraction of the population is going to be in retirement if they continue to live longer without facing an increase in the retirement age. "Eventually, the normal retirement age will have to become more proportional with the growing length of life, maybe 70 or even 75 over time within a few decades. That age might seem ridiculous to people now, but it probably won't in 20 or 30 years. People could still choose to retire at 62, but their benefits would be greatly reduced, based on a normal retirement age of 70 or 75."

He views the increase in people's life expectancy as "a positive development provided that we as a nation can deal with the increasing strain on entitlement programs. However, there will be some debate. The 2001 Social Security Commission encountered public opposition from labor leaders and some employers to increasing the normal retirement age. Still, when not on public record, almost everyone who testified agreed that it would eventually be necessary. The math simply requires it."

As for Medicare, "the longer people live, the more taxed the Medicare system will be," says Smetters, adding, however, that Medicare is more non-linear than Social Security, which is a cash benefit that keeps on paying. With Medicare, a majority of a recipient's health care costs are concentrated in the last two or three years of life. So "pushing out that particular portion of spending into the future will save money in present value." But another portion of money is also spent before the last few years of life: Increasing those years, therefore, increases spending. "The net effect will be to increase the Medicare costs, which is a big problem because Medicare shortfalls are already so huge and the program is already so underfunded. The crisis for Medicare will come much sooner than the crisis facing Social Security."

Wharton health care management professor Mark V. Pauly concurs with the view that the extra years being added on to life expectancy are generally high quality ones, "so much so that a person's present discounted value in Medicare spending doesn't really go up that much when we add increased life expectancy because most of the buildup in [health care costs] occurs in the last few years of life. Everybody has those last few years; they will just have them later." This is not a guaranteed scenario, he adds, because health maintenance expenses incurred by people as they age might cause additional strains on the system that are hard to anticipate now.

Indeed, he says, "Medicare is in such terrible shape that any problems posed by increased longevity are minor." And it's not getting better, he adds, pointing to health care reform proposals from Congress and the Obama administration which he says are taking away money that should be used for Medicare. "There are ways to mitigate the Medicare disaster, but they have been hijacked by health care reform," he notes, citing one specific proposal to take money out of private Medicare plans to pay for health insurance for people under 65. "We all have ideas of how to save Medicare, but our arsenal of relatively modest tools has been used to pay for health care reform."

The retirement picture is different in Europe, "where we have very strict retirement ages," says Doblhammer-Reiter. "It is 65, and in many countries, it will increase over the coming years to 67. But actually people now retire at the beginning of their 60s. Nobody works until 65," she notes, in part because older workers are more expensive and less flexible, which means that in times of high unemployment, they are laid off more often than other age groups. In Europe, she adds, "the countries with the highest life expectancies have the lowest retirement ages. Italy is an example. This is not sustainable; the pension system can't be funded if it isn't changed. There is no way out of either cutting the pension allowance or having people retire later."

What age should retirement be set at as we encounter generations living into their 100s? "It depends on the occupation," Doblhammer-Reiter says, "which means we probably need flexible retirement ages. I am a professor. In Italy, professors work until age 75. In Germany, there is a mandatory retirement age of 65, although for my cohorts it will be 67.... Yet I'm sure I could work until 70 or 75." A number of European countries are currently considering ending mandatory retirement based on age, Vaupel points out. "Denmark last year already [did].... And there is a move towards making pensions actually fair: If you work more years of your life, you get a bigger pension. People will have a choice about when to retire. My guess is that many will elect to work longer."

More People Chasing Fewer Jobs?

Although The Lancet study didn't look at the developing world -- in part because of the difficulty in getting consistent information on health and ageing issues -- these countries are also experiencing increases in life expectancy. In addition, China and India both have relatively young populations, suggesting that they will be available to buy the retirement assets of older investors in developed countries over the coming decades.

Meanwhile, if people are living longer and in better health, and if they are choosing to work later in life, will there be enough jobs to keep them employed? "Nobody knows," says Mitchell. "What we can do is look at the handful of countries that have aged more quickly than the U.S., like Japan and Singapore. We know there is substantial pressure on employers to set up more flexible work arrangements so that people can job share. In Japan, they have mandatory retirement -- often at age 60 or 65 -- but an employee might work up until a Friday, retire, then show up again on Monday at the same company in a new job earning half the pay. So the whole compensation and job responsibility issues are renegotiated, and the employee's role in the company is quite different. He may be a mentor or a consultant, which provides both the wisdom and continuity of knowledge that older workers typically have to offer. But it also allows the next generation to come in and learn the ropes."

According to Wharton finance professor Andy Abel, three basic data points determine the number of working age people: first, births 20 years ago, which indicate how many 20-year-olds there are in the workforce; second, immigration, both legal and illegal, among all age groups; and third, mortality rates."

Given that The Lancet study suggests a significant reduction in old-age mortality, will more people be working longer and chasing after fewer jobs? "Not necessarily," says Abel. "Where macroeconomics comes in is that there are more people around and they are demanding more health care, more recreational facilities, and other types of goods and services. So one shouldn't think of there being a fixed number of jobs. Overall demand for goods will go up, and that will help create an increasing demand for jobs. The impact on compensation will depend on what goes up more: the supply of labor or the demand for labor."

Smetters sees two effects in terms of job growth. "As people live longer and if they can maintain their productivity, they will simply increase their working years. If someday we are living to be 150, we obviously won't be retiring at 65. Second, it is true that if you have a lot of people competing for the same jobs, the jobs will be created simply because there is a potentially cheap and experienced workforce." If there is indeed this bulge of people, it could also mean that the wages being paid will be lower. "But not everyone will be doing it for the money," he notes, adding that elderly people also rejoin the workforce in order to socialize and keep active.

Meanwhile, in Europe, unlike in the U.S., there will be a decline in the labor force, "which means there will be jobs available," says Doblhammer-Reiter. "Resources will have to be found. Elderly people are one possible resource; another one is women. In many European countries, women don't work when they have families. A third resource is immigrants. But given the political discussion in European countries, I think it is less controversial" for elderly workers and women to enter the work force rather than to open the door to higher immigration. Vaupel also notes the differences between the U.S and other regions. The birthrate in the U.S. has been much higher in the preceding decades than it has in Japan and Europe, he says, and the country has experienced a much greater influx of immigrants, along with "not very much outmigration." In addition, people who move to the U.S. tend to be of working age, which increases the labor pool, and they are often highly educated.

A More Holistic Approach to Health

The Lancet researchers also reviewed a number of studies focused on health trends among older populations -- some negative, some positive, says Vaupel, although "on balance, things are probably getting better." On the positive side, for example, "rapid progress is being made in reducing heart attacks and other cardiovascular illness, some progress is being made against cancer, although it's slow, and there are some indications we are beginning to understand Alzheimer's disease better," he says. Doblhammer-Reiter also cites advances in medical technology and life style changes -- being more active and cutting down on smoking -- as positive directions.

What is not improving is the outlook for obesity and diabetes. "They seem to be deteriorating rather than improving over time," says Doblhammer-Reiter. Indeed, note the researchers in the article, "obesity is a widely discussed risk factor that threatens improvements in health [and] has been increasing in almost all populations.... Obesity is related to various poor health outcomes, including raised risk of diabetes, arthritis and stroke." Meanwhile, the number of diabetes cases is expected to more than double worldwide due to the ageing population, with the largest increase occurring among people 65 and older.

The study also looks at existing data on disability, mobility, hearing problems and other age-related conditions, but points out that "little is known about trends in cognitive function and dementia" -- an area that Vaupel, among others, feels would benefit from significantly more research. "There is good evidence that we are living longer and healthier in terms of physical function, but the evidence is more mixed on cognitive function," he says. Further studies are needed to find out "what people can do to keep their cognitive functions going as they get older." He also calls for an increase in geriatric medicine. "Today's system is organized around specialists -- cancer, heart, brain, etc. -- but older people, even relatively healthy ones, generally have several different problems. As a public policy issue, there needs to be better coordination to make sure that individual doctors are not prescribing medicines that interfere with each other. We need to start treating people holistically."

According to Mitchell, "Economists like to say that health is another component of our human capital -- the source of our strength and versatility in dealing with the future." It's not about "just being fit as a child or a young adult, but about making an investment in good health throughout your whole life so that you will be a fitter 100-year-old as well." Mitchell and others recently completed "The Health and Retirement Study" that looked, in part, at attitudes of people age 50 and older now, compared to those 50 and older 12 years ago. "We saw a big change between the two groups, in that today's baby boomers expect to have more complex careers in the second half of their lives. Many of them think they will continue to work in some capacity, perhaps not in the same job, but consulting, possibly starting their own business -- this was before the financial crisis -- and doing more volunteer projects. We can expect this trend to continue as people retire later and later in their lives."

Courtesy: http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=2398

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