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A new Balance Sheet  

With the significant and on-going demographic changes that have been taking place in recent years and are destined to continue, we need to build a new way of thinking about, observing and approaching the latter or third part of our lives.
Not many years ago, “old age” began at 60 or on retirement and, in my early years at the Bank of England, I can well remember looking at the list of pensioners who had died and seeing a rapid demise of those in their 60s after they had left behind a ’40-year career’ and the attendant routine and habits formed over their decades of employment. Of course, the ’40-year career’ has all but disappeared, apart from some parts of the public sector and academia, which has created a much richer ‘vein of experience’.
Statistically, many people will now spend as much, if not more, of their life in so called ‘retirement’. Much thought is being applied to the consequences of this both for our public services and, more importantly, by entrepreneurial individuals such as those behind innovative initiatives such as
In the 90s, I remember having a brief conversation with Howard Davies following a talk he had given. In his presentation, he had referred to the worse thing that could happen in I(C)T, was to find that one had not backed up or saved a document or, worse still, not backed-up a whole Drive and as a consequence had to ‘start from scratch’.  He used this ‘apocalyptic moment’ to illustrate that, for far too long in our society, this is exactly what we had done with our ‘retired’ and ‘elderly’ in that we “put them in box” without ‘backing-up’ many decades of experience, knowledge and understanding - ‘individual memory’ as against ‘corporate memory’.
Our society still needs to fully understand the consequences and undoubted challenges of these issues in terms of the potential costs and ‘drain’ on, for example, the NHS and the provision of Care. But, we also need to balance this ‘liability’ with a new and burgeoning ‘asset’, by accessing and harnessing literally billions of hours of experience, knowledge and understanding and, where it has been proved to be successful, using it to add value to individuals, enterprises and our socioeconomic environment as a whole and provide a new and sustainable ‘balance sheet’ for the future of our society.

Peter Harman