You may be wondering “Why should I be reading about living to 100 and what does this have to do with me and my personal finances?” Interestingly enough, you do have a good question there. You might be in your 20’s, 30’s or 40’s and thinking, “Please Gary, I have so much to worry about, why that subject now?” Well, truth being told here, you probably won’t live to be 100. But what if you do?
How many people are living to 100?
Centenarians, once a rarity, are the world’s fastest growing age group. Since 2000 when there were 50,281 of them here in the US, the group has grown by 44% to 72,197 (as of 2014). That makes this age group just about 0.003% in the United State, yes still small, but almost three times as many as there were in 1980 according to a report by CNN in 2016.
Centenarians are setting the gold standard for healthy aging. What can we learn from these pioneers? How can people decades younger apply the centenarians’ longevity lessons to their own lives? These are questions that scientists are investigating and trying to answer these days.
The investigators have discovered that the key to preserving health and vitality lies not in learning how people stay young, but in understanding how they age well. By identifying lifestyle patterns, vitamins, and medications that contribute to aging well, it may help slow down the aging process. Scientists seek to show how all of us can maximize the healthy portion of our lifespan. Based on the research, scientists say seventy-five million people alive today around the world can look forward to their ninth and tenth decades!
Much of making it to your 100th birthday is beyond your control, as longevity is partly dictated by genetics and the medical history and health habits of your parents and grandparents. But there are also some ways (okay, a lot of ways) lifespan can be expanded with life-enhancing practices that you can adopt now!
Why should you think about living a really long time?
I guess the most important reason to think about living to 100 is if you do make it, what kind of quality of life will you be experiencing? All the talk about 70 being the new 50 really doesn’t ring true if you are experiencing poor health and you could have done something that would have prevented that from happening but you just didn’t even try. As one who isn’t in great health (and I’m now 68) I can testify that it isn’t the new 50 for me. So a simple explanation, throwing out genetics and other factors is this:
If I had taken better care of myself when I was younger, I might very well be a lot healthier and happier than I am today.
I have written a number of times about the cost of healthcare nowadays, and I’m not going to dwell on it here today. It’s something that I am sure that you at least hear about often, even if you are very healthy these days. It is something to be familiar with and more importantly something that you can do something about while you are still young and healthy. Taking preventative measures can postpone or even eliminate those extensive financial and physical hardships later on in your life. Maybe even until you reach age 100.
Financial impacts of getting older
When you reach a certain age or health point in your life, you may want or even need to stop working. I’m certain at some point though you will want to do that regardless of age or health. But then, how will you support yourself without a weekly paycheck? How will you cover healthcare, living arrangements, daily expenses, and even fun things like travel and recreation?
That’s why personal finance bloggers like me write about and stress planning for those days long in advance, and we talk about a retirement plan, an emergency fund. and getting some good health and life insurance. What may seem like basic knowledge is routinely ignored by millions of people. Just a simple warning from me today: things will get more expensive every year you live and your ability to earn money to pay for it all will decline as you reach your later years. That’s true for just about everyone around. So, my words to live by are super simple:
Take care of your health now and plan and save for your future and retirement as soon as possible!
What do Kirk Douglas & Olivia de Havilland have in common?
Assuming you know who they are (they’re pretty famous actors in case you don’t), it’s not their Hollywood connection I am talking about here. It’s the fact that they have both reached 100 years old and are still around!
The other night I attended a concert at our local library that featured a show dedicated to the music and songs of Dean Martin. I have been a long-time fan of his music and fondly remember as far back as his days with Jerry Lewis and of course his hit TV shows years later. There are also all of the movies too. This year, had he survived, he would have celebrated his 100th birthday. Then it occurred to me that my own Dad was born in 1917 and he would have been 100 had he still been alive too. So I got to thinking about all of the others that would now be 100 had they lived until now.
Here’s a short list of famous people that would be 100 if alive today!
- President John F. Kennedy
- Ella Fitzgerald
- Raymond Burr
- Indira Gandhi
- Buddy Rich
- Gene Rayburn
- Desi Arnaz
- Lena Horne
- Phyllis Diller
- Dizzy Gillespie
- Andrew Wyeth
- Ernest Borgnine
Those people all played a big part of my memories growing up from music to comedy and from film and TV to politics. Do you remember shows like “Ironsides” and “McHale’s Navy” and “Match Game”?
Just in case you didn’t know, there are still several all-time favorites edging their way to 100 these days. Names I am sure you all know like Dick Van Dyke now 91, Carl Reiner now 95, Mel Brooks age 92, and Norman Lear now 95. “Let’s Make A Deal’s” Monty Hall just passed away at age 96 on September 30th. Maybe that is some proof that a good laugh and sense of humor contributes to a long and happy healthy life.
A quick list to stay healthy and living longer
I’m no doctor, but here’s a quick list of things I’ve found to help you stay healthy.
- Laugh and enjoy life
- Don’t smoke
- Eat fiber from whole grains
- Get enough sleep
- Don’t fear getting older
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
- Keep active
- Get an annual check-up with your doctor
- Have a purpose in life
- Have a dose of antioxidants daily
- Limit alcohol
- Avoid excess sugar and salt
- Eat fish every week
- Reduce your stress levels
- Find a life partner or friend to share with
- Stay optimistic, but realistic
You may have already drawn the conclusion that living to 100 may not be very likely, even if you stay hopeful. But, the important part of it all is being prepared for the “what if” moments in life and what if you live to be 100? If you make each day important and never just assume things about your health and welfare, your chances of living a longer, happier and healthier life will improve dramatically!
Do you spend time thinking about growing older and what your life may be or could be like? Is your health a concern and is your financial health a problem along with your physical health? What can you do right now to help improve both situations? Do the words of someone like me who has experienced health problems make a difference in how you prepare for your future?