By Mursi Saad El-Din
There is no doubt that advancement in medicine and medical treated have added years to the lives of men and women. Whereas a man or a woman of over 50 used to be called "old", now 50 is regarded as the start of another youth.
Statistics show a significant increase in the number of people living beyond 80. According to recent surveys, by 2060, there will be 400,000 centenarians in Britain. I am sure that we may have a similar number in Egypt. Already the average age has shifted from 40 to 60.
I don't know when the age of retirement was fixed at 65 for men and 60 for women. In the past people used to work until they were simply unable to go on. In fact to this day the Egyptian peasant, for example, continues to work regardless of any imposed retirement age. I am sure it is the same with peasants all over the world.
This issue is dealt with in an interesting article in the London Independent. The title of the article is "Too old to work but too young to retire -- a 21st-century dilemma". It deals with the problem of longevity from a practical point of view. The writer Robert Chessbyre quotes the secretary of state for work and pensions: "We live longer, therefore we should work longer... We cannot afford to keep 10 million (by 2050, 19 million) at the present pension starting points."
No doubt aging is determined by what we do and how well off we are. Ernest Hemingway, says Chessbyre, "called retirement the ugliest word in the language. Maybe that is why he put a shotgun to his head aged 61."
According to the Independent article, it is well established that those who love longer are the most affluent, and it is also true that the more affluent can afford not only to retire early if they wish but also to live well when they do.
After the disparity of wealth and health, what to do? Many jobs are "time-capped by their very nature". Would we be happy, the writer asks, "to fly off to Tenerife having spotted a white-haired aircraft captain with a slight tremor being helped into the cockpit? Or do we want a doctor with 'surgeon's shake' performing delicate brain operations on the dearest and dearest?"
The trouble with those who retire young is that there are very few jobs to go round for those over retirement age. Besides, after say 30 years of doing the same job, can someone handle an altogether new job and start anew?
Yet there are many who enjoy retirement. They believe retirement is the best thing that ever happened to them. They can now enjoy their lives and do the things they had always wanted to do but could not, like travelling or practising a hobby. I have a friend who, on retiring, took up his hobby of carpentry, left his city apartment and started a workshop in a secluded small town, and he is now a furniture maker doing great business.
But of course the best loved post-retirement job is to look after one's children, once you have become a grandfather or grandmother. This amazing occupation often becomes a necessity for the family, especially if the two parents are working...