Older people can still contribute to economic development


Older people have a wealth of wisdom, and their input can positively add to the economic development of a country.

Meet Wandia Gichuru’s mother. At the age of 82 she lives alone on a tiny island in Canada. She does all the cooking, cleaning, washing & ironing by herself. She drives, makes her own doctors appointments, does all her own shopping, and plans (and implements) the most amazing solo trips around the world.

But put all that aside, she is also an active Rotarian, sings in a choir, makes hand-made jewellery, spends an hour a day learning a new language on Duolingo, has a busy social life, is writing (her third) book, and is currently preparing for a talk she will give at the local museum as well as consulting for a team making a documentary film.

Not only does Wandia watch her life in awe, but it also makes her wonder how we could see more of that in Kenya.

Older people can still contribute to economic development
Older woman at home using her laptop computer – Picture | Knights Bridge Branding

“Are we guilty of assuming that older people just “want to rest” instead of looking at it the other way around? Maybe staying busy and productive is what keeps them young and happy!

So instead of simply rushing to take care of and doing everything for older people, shouldn’t we also be looking for ways to help them continue to actively contribute and stay productive? Couldn’t more of them be in advisory roles and board seats, writing books, or even being mediators, counsellors and teachers?”, she asks.

Wandia thinks social media in Kenya is full of people in their 20’s and 30’s sharing advice and life lessons. “But when last did you see the truly wise older people being asked their opinion?,”  she laments.

She also believes this is what traditional societies and village life provided for – the role of the elder was valued and revered. She adds that we need to find a way to bring it back to modern day urban life in this part of the world.

Older people make substantial contributions to the economy through participation in the formal or informal workforce (often beyond retirement age), taxes and consumption, and transfers of assets and resources to their families and communities, and their broader retention in the workforce (among those who wish or need to continue working) has the potential to enhance labour productivity. – United Nations

Wandia Gichuru is the Co-Founder and CEO at Vivo Activewear Ltd

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