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EDITORIAL: Retirement plannning vital

Barbados Nation

EDITORIAL: Retirement plannning vital

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In the demographic profile of a country there are two vulnerable groups, infants and the aged – and national governments are  concerned to frame policies to assist members of these groups who may need  protection specific to their vulnerabilities.

Some years ago the Child Care Board was set up to deal with those cases where “at-risk” children do not benefit from the parental or other support which is so necessary to helping young ones to reach adulthood without the scars of benign or worse still, deliberate neglect and abuse. Our society is right to deal with these problems, for to ignore them is to cause the society to pay a heavy price in social and other costs later .

The other vulnerable group does not often command the immediate attention of the Press or the society in general, because it is often more difficult to discern when a formerly able-bodied person has begun to experience cognitive erosion which can move them from the healthy and mentally competent adult into the ranks of the vulnerable elderly.

Both these vulnerable groups were recently headline news, and while the problems at the Child Care Board are attracting the urgent attention of the government, the problems associated with an increasingly ageing population also require ongoing consideration, according to the disclosures from a recent seminar on retirement, especially since, unlike helpless infants, adults can plan for ageing and retirement.

The rate of death has fallen with the increase in life expectancy. People are living longer. At the same time, birth and fertility rates are also falling with the result that in the coming years, a smaller working population will be faced with “supporting” a greater number of retirees, in a scenario so representative of developed countries.

Hence the need for an ageing policy since we cannot wait for the projection to become a reality without any provision having been made for the change. The seminar was therefore a timely reminder that the responsibilities of government always require a futuristic perspective even if present conditions suggest instant decisions in planning and policy execution.

But while planning for the population inversion may be a major task for government in this area, we support the view that individuals must take a greater responsibility in planning for their retirement. This is an inescapable obligation of sensible and responsible citizenship. In a sense it is like thinking of what you can do for yourself and your country rather than concentrating on what your country can do for you.

Each of us has a personal responsibility to plan for retirement, but the increasing incidence of dementia among the growing elderly, means that the personal responsibility extends also to our physical and mental health. The recently held seminar revealed that there is a lack of planning for retirement by workers in general and this bodes ill for the future.

The government may do all in its power to plan at the macro level but the future well being of our ageing population depends greatly on how well each of us plans for our financial, physical and mental well-being as we enjoy greater life expectancy. It may have national implications but it is also a high personal responsibility.