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Keep up kids – the longevity revolution is alive and well !

I recently attended a pre-retirement briefing where the trajectory of a typical expenditure pattern beyond the age of 65 was explained. Generally we were informed that between 65 and 75 years we are in reasonably good health that enables us to travel and participate in activities we enjoy.

Following on, from 75 years we can expect to slow down. Really? I thought to myself.

The presenter continued; at around 75 years, we may begin to become less independent, require home help and have increased health care costs. It starts to become clear that from our early 80’s we can typically expect to require a lot more home help, further increases to personal health care costs with further increasing loss to our mobility and independence.

A bleak picture and somewhat outdated I thought. No wonder people are reluctant to embrace the idea of growing older and instead experience a sense of dread at the prospect.

The notion that chronological age was being used as the basis to explain the ageing and financial trajectory didn’t seem realistic. As an example I’m the youngest of five girls, my eldest sister in her mid-70’s is still working by choice, involved in numerous activities and always exploring and learning something new. A brilliant role model that’s for sure - I can’t see her slowing down anytime soon. I also wondered if the presenter was aware that people aged 50 plus were the highest growing cohort of creative people embarking on becoming entrepreneurs.

Times and attitudes are changing! Keep up kids!

Why do we continue to use a one size fit’s all approach when it comes to older adults? Why are our perceptions of ageing so negative when for many it has potential to be the most empowering chapter of our lives? Who are these attitudes serving? Biologically, there are quite extreme differences between one 65 year old or 75 year old to another, mainly due to genetics and lifestyle.

I’ve heard too many times that medical professionals often use the line ‘well, this is to be expected at your age, get used to it, take your medication off you go’. Don’t get me started on how older people are represented by the media.

Do others not see and experience what I do? That the longevity revolution is alive and well?

A growing cohort of older people are rejecting the path society has laid out for them – at almost 60 I certainly am! Instead they are fit and active, contributing by either paid or voluntary work, care giving to grandchildren, participating in activities they enjoy and continue to embrace lifelong learning.

So what’ my message here? Could this clear line of site between our wellbeing and finances be a key strategy to encourage people to take a proactive approach towards their lifelong health and wellbeing? If we have a culture where the vast majority of experiences are linked with finances why not exploit that for the greater good. The adage ‘Your health is your wealth’ can become, ‘Investing in your health and wellbeing throughout life is an excellent strategy to extend the life of your financial assets and stack the odds in our favour for quality of life, good health and independence’. It’s a bit longer, but you get the point.

Does that not sound like a plan ?

It is quite the norm to consider and plan for our financial future. I’d love to see more emphasis placed on planning and preparing for life in our older years with a sense of optimism – underpinned by messages that encourage us to perhaps take a little more responsibility. We need to think about later stages in life in terms of – what steps can we take now, and throughout life to be the best we can be in older age physically and emotionally – not just financially.

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