Group of European Pensioners from Savings Banks and Financial Institutions


Index of documents > Euromeetings Magazine > Euromeetings Number 14





            We live in a world crisis of trust. Moreover, we as elderly confront a lack of social consideration.  We will examine these circumstances and try to establish the border, that is always artificial, that separates the elderly from those who are not. After that, we will emphasise the importance the elderly should have, and conclude with reflections about the attitude, preparation, and requirements that will allow this collective group, not only to build trust, but also influence positively in the development of the western societies.


Distrust prevails in the world, and this is noticed especially by the absence of credibility. Politicians, businessmen, workers, etc. do not fulfil what they have promised. They lose credibility and nobody is forced to give credence to one that is not trustworthy.  For every good thing, there is a price. The people that do and give more than what is expected have credibility, have success. On the other hand, unsuccessful people are those that do less than what is expected of them.


            Generally, the majority gives much more than what is expected. That is, it has credibility and builds trust. Furthermore, free time allows one to re-earn freedom that one did not have while working, making it easy to choose how to use that freedom, that time, in a way that gives more worth to his/her actions.




- Nobody considers himself/herself old. The others grow old.

- Contradiction: we want to grow up, but nobody wants to be considered old.

- It appears that the last years have passed all of a sudden.

- The physical deterioration of the elderly decreases, but the moral deterioration increases.

- Respect and great consideration for the elderly has been overcome by disdain.


            Why has the positive consideration for the elderly gone beyond the limits to disregard for the “old people” in the present society?


 There seems to be an opinion that disqualifies the elderly “per se”. It is based on preconceived ideas. The stereotype of an unproductive old person is set apart from the responsible citizens.

One main explanation is that in the patrimonial society, the old person had authority that was respected due to the children economic dependency.

Economic Terms (Decreasing marginal usefulness). When a good thing abounds, its subjective value decreases. On the other hand, when a good thing is scarce, its worth increases.

Even though the physical deterioration of the elderly is diminishing, the social deterioration (lack of role) and even the moral deterioration (yielding of responsibilities-self esteem) grows.

Our ancestors never retired. They died at the foot of a canyon and taught us to work hard and to feel guilty for not working. In the traditional societies, the old person was respected and appreciated. He/She was asked for advice and his/her authority, wisdom, and moderation derived from experience was recognized. Nevertheless, in the present day, they do not keep in mind these principles. The politicians have, very selfishly, contributed to building this negative image and lack of consideration toward the elderly (they can play amongst them or with their grandchildren), with the consequent change in their worth and lack of respect.

It is not the age nor the physical or mental conditions, but society that classifies as old or elderly all those people that, once they lose their working status, do not develop any activity that is sufficiently appreciated.




There are three effects that unite and give, as a final result, an increase in the older population. Firstly, a longer life. Secondly, the boundary marks of the working life by anticipated retirements. Lastly, the diminishing birth rate. The three effects together considerably increase the relative weight of the elderly population over the younger ones.

Remember that in order for a generational relief to exist, the national birth rate must be 2:1. The forecast for 2020 is that 121 countries will be below this rate.

Furthermore, the elderly population grows almost exclusively in the developed countries, contrary to what happens with the younger population. Approximately 50% of the world population is under 25 years of age. Half of that rate, only 13% live in occidental societies and the remaining 87% live in poor countries.

At the present time, a million of people turn 60 every month. That is calculation that there are 65 million people who are over that age (10% of the population). In 2025, this number will duplicate and in 2050, it will be 2.000 millions, a population that will be all, practically, in the developed world.

It is obvious that with an importantly growing weight of elderly in the western societies, these societies will not be able to continue their developing rhythm without counting on this collective group. To count on them means giving them adequate social consideration, even though, naturally, this consideration will not be given for free. It is essential a positive attitude from the elderly, as they will have to put themselves in the status that belongs to us in order to carry out a socially appreciated role.

            Half of the shopping decisions are taken by those over 50 years of age and the maximum richness occurs from 65 years old.




            In order to obtain this influence and standing, we should be aware of the social changes that has driven us to a rushed, reductionist (ethical values have become economic values), technological, intercultural, individualistic, wasteful, globalized, unsafe, and distrustful society.

Sometimes we make distrust a wall that protects us from the outside world, from the unknown.  But does it really protect us or imprison us? The truth is that it is complicated to live without suspicion. Respect for strangers, distrust is the rule. This rule also returns against us, for instance, as cameras that watch us and frisking at the airports; we are all suspicious citizens.

            In order to build trust, the corrupted circle needs to be broken. If I distrust, then the consequence is that others will not trust me.

            Secondly, a positive attitude facing life by maintaining happiness and initiative that, together with physical exercise and an adequate diet, will allow the elderly to maintain, for many years, a rewarding activity. This activity will contribute to changing the derogatory classification that exists for the old age, and to build a social prestige for this stage in life.

The importance of good humour needs to be valued. An older person should be satisfied with his condition, age, and situation. He/She can remember the past with pleasure, but without nostalgia.

            Life is what comes, not what it was. Let’s treasure our memories, but always enjoying the present before it passes by and is lost forever.

Family, along with health, should be put on the top of our priority list. We must maintain a balance between being kind and considerate with others and with oneself, trying to discover the people with negative attitudes, because they can influence our self-esteem.  One should not fall in the error of pretending to change them. Usually they do not change.  WE should surround ourselves with positive people.

            Avoid elderly temptations. As we know, they are four: physical immobilization, brain immobilization, emotional immobilization, and social immobilization.

            Old age is a stage to fill with projects and illusions without worrying (only within a just measurement) about other people’s attitudes towards the elderly people.

            All this contributes to the fact that the elderly can be the counterpoint of certain deficiencies in the present society, sharing happiness and serenity that contrast with the stress of the younger ones, arranging their free time to be actively and creatively used, as a compensation of the deficiencies that unavoidably start appearing with years of physical, intellectual, emotional, and social activities.


            In third place: Strategic plan

In our professional life, we have developed strategic plans. We will accomplish one more in our personal life.

- Surround yourself with those that you like: family, animals, music, plants, etc.

- Your home is your reflection, but do not close yourself up inside it.

- Do not succumb to nostalgia. Leave your house. Go to another city, to a foreign country, but not to places from the past.  It can hurt.

- Preventing illnesses is not a cure.

- Maintain an activity that forces the development of our mental power.

- Physical exercise and an adequate diet.

- Commitment with life. Maintain illusions and hopes.

- Maintain contact with the society and with nature.

- Maintain pride for the accomplishments, and for the preservation of moral principles of the society. The elderly person has known wars, hunger, economic troubles, lack of education, and has worked hard, without complaining, to survive and has created the best conditions for the present society.


In fourth place: Practice – Fields of conduct


In the mature age we know more and posses secure, reasonable, and solidly organized understandings. It is a stage where the teacher and the researcher can fulfil their greatest achievements. The senior counsellor figure is perfectly applicable. It is regrettable to see how they misuse people who have participated in important negotiations, that have led fundamental change processes in their companies, that have created or rebuilt them with success, etc.

Identical reasons are applicable for the independent counsellor figure in the businesses, to defend the rights of the shareholders.

Another way, that allows an appropriate use of time and it establishes new relationship bonds for the elderly, is found in volunteering for multiple public causes. It can be for cultural, leisure, assistance, charity, professional organizations, and others.

Writer - Narrate life and experiences.

Politician – Defend rights and other aspirations of the elderly.

The mission of the youth is to learn. Elders have to teach, transmitting all the experience that has been learned in life. Once passed the stage of the patrimony society, the economic testament loses interest and the moral testament recovers its vital importance at the same time.

Effectively, the main patrimony for the elderly is their own experience. Bequeath their own legacy, transmit this experience, and demand a double activity: 1st- Rebuild personal memory, formulating a retrospective judgement that allows one to judge not only for what has been done, but also for what is left to do.  2nd- Transmit it to those who should listen to it and can benefit from this legacy.

The elderly represent authority, transmit culture to those nearby, the traditions. They symbolize the historical memory, family memories, the link that unites everyone, the kind flow of traditional values of honesty, work, austerity, and prudence. The elderly know, better than anybody, rank hierarchically, play things down, build bridges, because they know the incentive of strength, of downfalls, and wisdom that await.

        A man needs to feel his life. That is achieved with an activity that appreciates, feeling that his work makes perfect. The greatest satisfaction is obtained when one notices that his actions benefit others, proving with it, that the purpose of life is not to be happy, but to be useful, that precisely being useful to others is how to achieve happiness.

With the satisfaction of being certain that it has been worth living – in our own way- creating a family, some friends, visiting places, and developing a professional activity.  With the illusions invested in projects that do not present competition or nervousness anymore, nor nudging to reach the goal, feeling ourselves at peace with others and ourselves, we can say, like Amado Nervo:

                               Life, you do not owe me anything

                               Life, I do not owe you anything

                               Life, we are at peace.


José Manuel Pérez Gómez

                                                                                  Doctor in Economics