Individual retirement ages

Young & Old, Let's Get it On!
Young & Old, Let’s Get it On!, a photo by AlphaTangoBravo / Adam Baker on Flickr.

I read the following about rising life expectancy in a Danish newspaper (in Danish, translation follows):

»De [ældre] vil være stærkere både mentalt og fysisk. De vil kunne rejse jorden rundt også flere år efter, de har rundet 90 år, og benytte sig flittigt af samfundets tilbud. Vi ser det allerede mere og mere i dag, men det er en tendens, der vil blive forstærket«, siger Peter K.A. Jensen.

[…]

Systemet er bygget op, så pensionsalderen nogenlunde flugter med udviklingen i middellevealderen, hvilket medfører, at pensionen altid starter cirka 19 år tidligere end middellevetiden.

Det betyder, at danskerne ifølge prognosen vil have en pensionsalder på omkring 80 år, når middellevealderen runder de 100 år ved år 2090.


“The [elderly] will be stronger both mentally and physically. They will be able to travel around the world even several years after they have reached 90 and will make frequent use of what society offers. We already see it more and more today, but it is a trend that will be reinforced,” said Peter K. A. Jensen.

[…]

The system is designed so that the retirement age is roughly aligned with the increase in life expectancy, which means that the retirement age will always start about 19 ??years earlier than average life expectancy.

This means that Danes are forecast to have a retirement age of about 80 years when life expectancy reaches 100 years in the year 2090.

Although this quote is from a Danish newspaper, we see similar ideas in most countries these days.

However, two of my aunts died at the age of 50, my mum’s dad at 66, my father-in-law at 69, and nobody has ever reached 90 in my family. Also, the ones that don’t drop dead often start to suffer debilitating diseases in their sixties or seventies.

At the same time, some of my friends have family where everybody seems to live to at least ninety, and they are all sprightly until their late eighties.

I’ve therefore started wondering whether the rising life expectancy is due to some families growing older and older (because the diseases that used to kill them have been eradicated), while other families haven’t seen much improvement at all.

It’s also well-known that your life expectancy varies wildly depending on where you live. For instance, in the Calton ward in Glasgow, men can expect to live to the ripe old age of 53.9 (compared to 75.9 for the UK as a whole).

The huge variation in life expectancy makes it dubious whether it’s really such a good idea just to increase the retirement age across the board. If I’m right and the increasing average is due to some individuals living much longer while others still die in the fifties and sixties, the effect will be that some people will get wonderfully long retirements while other have to work till they drop.

Would it not be better to get actuaries to calculate individual retirement ages, based on family history, genetic profile, employment history, etc.? They could for instance work out each individual’s life expectancy and then set the retirement age to 19 years before this. (They could exclude some lifestyle choices from their calculations, so that you don’t get an earlier retirement age by taking up smoking.)

Of course they would get it really wrong at times, but it would give everybody a decent chance of enjoying a reasonable length of retirement.

Movember



Hideous moustache day!
Originally uploaded by viralbus

Nearly a month ago, I wrote on Facebook: “I’ve decided to try a variation on Movember: Instead of starting with a clean-shaven face and then growing a moustache, I’m starting with a normal one (after removing the bottom half of my goatee) and will try to make a beautiful Dalí-style one out of it during November.”

It’s St. Andrew’s Day today, which marks the end of Movember, so my moustache will disappear at bedtime tonight.

At least I managed to make it curly, but I’m afraid it’s not nearly as impressive as Dalí’s — I guess that takes much longer to achieve. I could probably have made it longer if I had known exactly how to grow it, though — I erroneously trimmed it too much in the middle and too little on the sides. At least I’ll know next time! 🙂

Anyway, the amount of bonding that happens amongst Mo Brothers is amazing, so if you’ve never tried it, please do so next year.

Homœopathic A&E

When I first watched this great sketch by Mitchell & Webb, I thought it was just a fun way to demonstrate how ludicrous homœopathy is:

However, now that David Cameron has appointed Jeremy Hunt — who believes in homœopathy — to Health Secretary for England, I’m somewhat worried that a typical England A&E will look like this soon.

I must say I’m delighted the Scottish NHS is completely separate, and that the Scottish reshuffle put a safe pair of hands in charge of the Scottish NHS.

Free open-air gyms



Paris
Originally uploaded by PhylB

Gyms are generally priced in a way that makes sense if you visit them several times a week, but if you like me just want to do fifteen minutes once a week, they’re horribly overpriced.

I spent the past week in Paris (or rather, Champs sur Marne) with Phyllis, Marcel, Charlotte, Léon, Anna and Amaia; I was working the entire week at a local company while Phyllis dragged the kids round Paris.

One day we noticed a tiny open-air gym on our way to the RER station.

It was tiny — just four machines — and made in cast iron painted yellow and green (see the photo).

For real gym aficionados, it would be useless, but I wish East Renfrewshire would put up equipment like this in our parks — I’m sure it’d be good for the general health and well-being!

Colourblindness

For somebody who’s not colourblind, it can be a bit hard to understand how the world looks if you are.

However, I’ve just discovered there are now sites that can help.

For instance, here is the same photo of Anna processed in three different ways by Colour Blindness Simulator:

From left to right, that’s the original, then the way it’s seen by people with protanopia, then deuteranopia, and finally tritanopia.

This is of course really useful if you’re designing user interfaces so that you don’t unintentionally create designs that are confusing or unreadable to colourblind people.

Supersygehuse



The Birmingham Super Hospital
Originally uploaded by ell brown

Den nuværende dille med at nedlægge de små sygehuse og erstatte dem med nybyggede supersygehuse er en international tendens, ikke kun en dansk.

Jeg vil spå, at om en årrække vil det blive set som en af vor tids største fiaskoer.

Idéen om at samle specialerne, så fx hjertekirurgerne kan operere på hjerter hele tiden i stedet for et par gange om året, er jo i og for sig udmærket.

De to hovedproblemer er flg.:

For det første bliver afstandene alt for store. Patienter ligger jo som hovedregel ikke alene på sygehuset, men bliver fra tid til anden besøgt af deres familie og venner. Det giver alt for meget besvær for dem, hvis de skal rejse i timevis hver gang.

For det andet bliver hospitalerne alt for store. Det betyder for det første, at de for personalet bliver meget svære at identificere sig med og tage ansvar for, og for det andet, at de bliver umulige at lukke ned, hvis der opstår et problem (fx infektioner).

P.g.a. disse problemer vil jeg tro, at man om et årti eller to vender rundt på en tallerken og begynder at erstatte de store sygehuse med en masse små lokalsygehuse, som de specialiserede læger så enten rejser rundt til eller hjælper på afstand v.h.a. internettet.

Små sygehuse (fx ét i hver kommune) vil få kraftig lokal støtte, og det vil være nemt at sætte navn på eventuelle problemer, så de ansatte vil føle et personligt ansvar.

Det bliver naturligvis lidt træls for overlægerne at skulle rejse land og rige rundt, men jeg vil tro, at videokonferencer og fjernstyrede skalpeller og den slags vil kunne minimere det.

Jeg gad vidst, hvad de nye supersygehuse vil blive brugt til i 2030 – lagerhaller?

Stor baby



Baby scan
Originally uploaded by viralbus

Som jeg sikkert har nævnt tidligere, skal Phyllis efter planen føde den 9. januar.

Det betyder, at afstanden fra skambenet til toppen af livmoderen gerne skulle være 28-29 cm.

Men da de målte hende i dag til et rutinetjek, var afstanden 34 cm.

De sagde først, det sikkert bare var for meget væske, men de sendte hente til scanning for at tjekke.

Men nej, det er rent faktisk pigen derinde, der er kæmpestor: De vurderer hende til at veje mellem 2500 og 3000 gram på nuværende tidspunkt.

Anna vejede 3500 gram ved fødslen, så det lyder jo umiddelbart ret stort.

De regner med at tjekke Phyllis for sukkersyge i næste uge, men der er ingen tegn på noget i urinen, så hvis ikke det er årsagen, er det sikkert bare en meget stor baby.

Det kan selvfølgelig godt være, at hun vokser meget langsomt fra nu af og altså kommer til at veje ca. det samme som Anna ved fødslen, men det kan man ikke sige noget fornuftigt om på nuværende tidspunkt.

Jeg er i øvrigt meget imponeret over billederne fra scanningen. Phyllis er aldrig blevet scannet så sent i graviditeten, og det gør altså en stor forskel.

Se blot, hvor tydeligt man kan se hendes profil på billedet øverst til venstre.