Just for fun, let’s begin with a bit of history. Five thousand years ago, life expectancy was 18 years. By the 1900s, life expectancy had risen to age 47. Today, it’s age 79 and continues to rise. What’s more shocking is that demographers predict children born in 2000 will, on average, live to age 100 and those born in 2007 will live to age 104! Today, one in ten sixty-five-year-olds will live to age 100. I think you get the picture.
Past and future advances in medical science will continue to benefit humanity and extend life expectancy. I find that many people don’t give the final quarter of their life much thought. On a personal level, I’ve paid close attention to this topic as my grandmother lived to age 98…her last years bed-ridden in a nursing home with dementia; my mother lived to age 89…dying at home but after three years of living with Alzheimer’s; and my father who lived in very good health until age 99. From watching these family members, I learned several valuable lessons:
- ‘Imagine’ your future. Run it like a movie where you write the script, you are the director, and you are the star! What would you like your story to be? Would it be full of travel? Would it be full of missionary or charity work? Would it be full of time and travel with children and grandchildren? Once you have developed your script, what do you need to do differently to ‘produce’ your movie?
- Take care of your body. There’s no getting around this one…you must invest in your good health by eating right and exercising regularly. Seeing the longevity in my family inspired me to exercise regularly and adopt a much healthier eating plan. My father ate healthily and was always extremely active physically. He had quite the reputation at the gym where he would show up in his suit, hang his coat on a hanger and go through the weight machines in his suit and tie! On weekends, he was constantly doing very physical yard work. In other words, he was always in motion.
- Exercise your mind. There’s plenty about Alzheimer’s and dementia I (we) don’t understand, but I’m pretty confident an active mind is a good antidote. My grandmother and mother, in their elder years, lived a more isolated existence spending most of their time at home and entertained themselves watching a lot of TV. In contrast, my father shunned TV for reading; continued to remain active in business and was always coming up with new ideas around money, investing, and insurance.
- Pay attention to your finances. Clearly, anyone who plans to live to age 100 must give considerable thought to how to fund an appropriate lifestyle. You may need to rethink investing. Intuitively, you may think you need to be very conservative with most of your money out of the stock market and instead heavily invested in bonds, money market accounts, and CDs. However, more likely, you’ll need a significant allocation to stocks for growth. Here, you may benefit greatly from consulting with your financial advisor. Be sure and let them know you plan to live to age 100!
Whether you live to age 100 or the average of age 79, planning can make the final quarter the best times of your life.