New publications: supporting people to prepare for later life

We partnered with Citizens Advice and the Centre for Ageing Better on two new pieces of research
Many people avoid planning for their future, and do not receive holistic support from their employer which could help them to prepare for later life

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch) has published two new reports which explore how to support people to better manage and prepare for later life. Looking Forward: attitudes to later life, published in partnership with Citizens Advice, uncovers the attitudes of people in their 50s and 60s towards later life. Thinking Ahead, published in partnership with the Centre for Ageing Better, explores support provided by employers to help staff plan for their future.

Looking Forward: Attitudes to later life

Citizens Advice commissioned Ipsos MORI to explore the attitudes of people in their 50s and 60s towards later life. The aim was to understand how people who have not reached retirement age feel about getting older, and the extent to which they had planned for the future. In addition to the written findings, two short films have been produced.

Among other questions, the research aimed to uncover the specific anxieties around getting older; how – if it all – people prepare to deal with changes in later life; and what factors make people more (or less) likely to prepare for their future.

The research demonstrated the diversity of attitudes and anxieties towards later life. However, certain themes cut across individual stories. Attitudes were shaped by the participants’ experiences and existing resources. The participants did not have a fully-rounded view of what later life could look like. They described feeling overwhelmed by the idea of planning for the future and the distress of thinking about the end of life. Many felt the best preparation was to “live for the day”, stay positive and not worry too much. This reveals the need to frame planning not as worrying, but as the means of achieving a good later life.

Allyson Whisker from Citizens Advice has written a blog post which is based on the research, ‘Why people aren’t making plans for when they get older – and what should be done about it.

Thinking Ahead

Thinking Ahead explores what large employers are doing to support employees in their mid-life through to retirement, to examine the delivery of interventions, and explore the business context that led to interventions. Consisting of depth interviews with 25 large employers from 13 industries, Thinking Ahead provides a number of useful insights into current practices.

Most of the support on offer from the employers was narrowly focused on a single issue such as pensions. Motivations to offer support included being seen as a “an employer of choice” and retaining valued skills. Many didn’t target their interventions by age, despite support on some issues potentially being more appropriate for workers at different points in their lives.

The report calls for employers to provide holistic support for employees from mid-life. This could include supporting staff with career development, plans for retirement, managing care responsibilities, and improving health and wellbeing.

Read 'Thinking Ahead' Read 'Looking Forward'


The UK Branch of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation’s Transitions in Later Life programme aims to help people in mid to later life feel better supported to manage changes as they age.