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Harnessing the Skills of the Grey Tsunami

Harnessing the Skills of the Grey Tsunami

October 24, 2013

A leading New Zealand health insurer says society is failing older people by retiring many of them early and not engaging them effectively once they leave paid employment.

Because of that too many people die early because of lack of purpose or don’t maintain their health and allow medical conditions to overtake them.

Geoff Annals, recently appointed Chief Executive of Accuro Health Insurance following an extensive career as a DHB manager and CEO of the New Zealand Nurses Union, says society misses out on the full contribution this highly experienced and skilled group offers.

“When people retire they’re still at their most productive and their skill and wisdom should be harnessed to enable them to continue playing an important role in society,” he says.

“We set retirement and superannuation at an arbitrary age when most are still keen to work.”

The longest lived people in the world are those with a purpose in life and a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Geoff argues that it’s time to recognise that more people living longer is fundamentally good.

“We just need to give people the opportunities to be engaged in the workplace and wider society,” he says.

One way to address this “grey tsunami” is for businesses to adopt a staged retirement plan as advocated by Accuro’s consulting medical officer, Dr Simon Ryder-Lewis, where skilled staff can gradually reduce their working week from five days to four to three and continue to provide a valuable role.

Society needs to recognise our ageing population have knowledge, skills, experience and sound judgement and provide an environment where their talents can be utilised Geoff Annals comments.

“Too often we hear stories of people who retire, lose interest and purpose and die far too young. Others have medical problems which deny them the chance to participate fully,” he says.

It’s for this group of people that health insurance can play a valuable role.

“With private health cover, conditions affecting knees, hips and heart can speedily be addressed allowing the person to return to work or be engaged in the retirement activities they enjoy,” he says.

For that reason Accuro Health Insurance has led the way in encouraging the government to provide incentives to enable older members to retain their private health cover and therefore remain a positive force in the community.

As a recently appointed CEO, Geoff is keen to talk to a range of people to get a “better understanding of what people want.”

“When we better understand what they want, then we’ll look at what can be achieved and better ways that health insurance can be offered.”

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