Over-50s Fear Outliving Their Money

Outliving their money is the biggest fear of Canadians over 50 today, according to CARP, the national organization dedicated to the needs of this group.

April Lewis, a British Columbia, CA- based representative of CARP (Canadian Association Of Retired Persons), is among the many Canadian seniors who thanks to the recent economic downturn, were never afforded the chance to “retire” reported Misty Harris of Postmedia News. 

“I did everything right; I had a Master’s degree, I worked my a___ off my whole life, and I kept rising to the top.  So I thought I was safe”, said Lewis, 61.  “Then one day, I was unceremoniously escorted out of the building after over 30 years in health care.”

“The biggest fear CARP members have is outliving our money,” said Lewis, who now works in a number of contract positions as a writer and spokesperson.

Colin Miller, CEO of the International Council on Active Aging, said the overall message is that long-term retirement planning is essential.  “We certainly aren’t prepared monetarily; we certainly aren’t prepared in terms of physical health; and we certainly aren’t prepared on a societal level,” Miller said.  That’s where increased longevity can create fear.

National Framework on Aging

Since 1998 the National Framework on Aging was developed in Canada as a voluntary guideline for government and other policy makers and service providers with meeting the needs of seniors.  The National Framework included a vision statement as outlined in a book titled, Aging in Alberta by the author, Herbert C. Northcot.  The statement is as follows: 

Canada, a society for ALL ages, promotes the well-being and contributions of older people in all aspects of life.  This vision statement refers to the needs of seniors, that is, all that is necessary to promote their well-being in ALL aspects of life, and at the same time acknowledges the many contributions that seniors make.  Five principles were stated to facilitate achievement of the overall goal articulated by the vision statement: dignity, independence, participation, fairness, and security.  These five principles envision seniors living normally and independently as participating members of society while at the same time receiving those supports and services that are necessary to maintain independence and ACTIVE involvement as long as possible.

Question- What is ACTIVE involvement for Seniors 50 plus?

Usually, the first answer to this question that pops up for most people is volunteering, and a related answer is babysitting and playing with the grand kids.  Then, there is the opportunity to participate in your local senior’s center.   The mission of a senior’s center first organized after the end of the second world war was basically a low energy place (playing cards & socializing with other people)  to counter the high unemployment rate at that time.  Today, most mature adults have valuable traits such as maturity, wisdom, skills, knowledge, contacts and resources.  As a result, these more modern traits require higher energy activities that are congruent to a more active, creative and productive pre-retirement or retirement life. eg. Lifelong Learning Centers and business and/or social entrepreneur/small business owner startup training.  Also, we need relevant mentors across the Country that could provide business support at every stage of the entrepreneurial process.  I  also believe that CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons) could collaborate with SBA (Small Business Administration) to facilitate suitable workshops and programs that would work for Seniors 50 plus.

Startup Canada Campaign

As I explained above, I strongly believe that the 50+ Demographic must be a separate category in the StartUp Canada initiative with the mission to help ALL the people regardless of age to benefit from starting their own small business.  Entrepreneurship is for everyone but we need to recognize that seniors have different expectations as compared to the Young (18-34) potential entrepreneur or small business owner.

Suzanne Grant, Delegate and Mentor for Global Startup Youth & Global Entrepreneurship has recently started a very important LinkedIn discussion group titled, Is Canada ready to be a StartUp Nation?  I am a contributing member in this group with my own focus being on the 50+ demographic.

I addressed Suzanne by saying that Startup Canada will need to collaborate more with some of the larger groups that are presently representing the 50+ demographic.  For instance, let’s make a working liaison with CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons).  Also, we need to bring to the 50+ Entrepreneur table the SBA (Small Business Association) and possibly the media like Moses Znaimer of ZoomerMedia Ltd.  Also, new this month premiering Oct. 7th, Conrad Black on Vision TV will be hosting a new radio program aimed at the Seniors 45 or 50 plus.  The goal is to give a crisp and literate prospective to the problems and questions that mature adults have on many subjects.

Then, Davender Gupta, Founder Startup-Academie in a response to this same group discussion said, “I definitely give a thumbs-up to encouraging more “startup 45″ and startup 55.”  

Furthermore, Davender mentions that “In my experience working with the VC community ( at least in Montreal), there is a real age bias against any tech startup founder over 35.  I can easily assume, that this is the case across the board, whether we’re talking about grants, award programs, government programs, and private angel investing.  We pull out all the stops for youth but once you’re 35 you’re deemed to be TOO OLD to participate in the startup ecosystem except as a “mentor”.  I think this is crazy. Imagination has no expiry date.”

Also, Davender says that, “we need to get “Startup 45/55” on the map and change this perception.  The 45+ crowd has the experience to recognize opportunities, the network from which to recruit a team, the means to bootstrap, the maturity to execute and the patience to see it through to success.

In conclusion, Davender says that activating the Startup 45/55 movement would really make Canada a Startup Nation!

Personally speaking, I think that Canada will NOT be a Startup Nation it wants to be until it welcomes ALL the interested people that live in this Nation.  In my own opinion there will not be much progress just concentrating on the Young (18-35) age group.  At the same time we will need older ‘business experienced’  mentors.  Presently we basically have much younger mentors and facilitators looking after the needs of the younger entrepreneurs.

Since we all agree that entrepreneurship is for everyone, we need to include the 50+ Entrepreneur (this is where the work/business experience lies); the Immigrant Entrepreneur (bringing new skills, culture and knowledge to the table); the Military Entrepreneur (bringing decipline and very technical training skills); the Aboriginal Entrepreneur (bringing crafting knowledge and mechanical skills); and the Social Entrepreneur (bringing social good to a small business).

Finally, I think that the KEY strategy here is basically treating EACH of the above mentioned entrepreneurial groups equally and with full respect.  It is very important to be going beyound the Youth Entrepreneur focus by getting separate facilitating  organizations started for each category of entrepreneurs found existing in Canada. Then ANY potential or existing entrepreneur in all of Canada could immediately go to their own business support group for hands-on guidance and financial support, if required.

Any comments and/or suggestions for this important discussion will be much appreciated.  Thanks for reading this new post.

Joe W.