I read a very interesting article in The Futurist (Nov/Dec 2010) by Verne Wheelwright, author of “It’s YOUR Future…Make It A Good One,” (www.personalfutures.net) this morning. The author outlined strategies for dealing with the fact that you could live a very long time. By this time, I think that most of us are aware that people are living longer and healthier lives than ever before. Thanks to research and advances in medical technology a great number of people are going to live healthy lives of 100 or more years. What does this news mean to you?
It means that life isn’t over when you reach retirement age, and that you need to plan accordingly. What would you do differently if you knew for a fact that you would live to 110 or beyond? This is not science fiction any more; there is a distinct possibility that people will be enjoying improved health and an even longer life expectancy in the very near future. This puts a whole new perspective on aging and it is going to bring up some interesting questions. What are going to do and how are you going to manage this extra time? It certainly means that you need to disavow yourself of the idea that you are too old to learn or do new things.
What will you want to do? What will you be able to do, and what will you be able to afford to do? These are some pretty deep questions. You may need to entertain the idea of working longer at your present career or planning for a second career. How long do you need to work in order to afford not to work for the rest of your life? Financial planning becomes even more important if you are going to have to spread your investments over an extended period of time. If you have planned well enough you may want to quite working altogether or involve yourself wholeheartedly in volunteer responsibilities.
If you are 65 now, what do you expect to be doing when you are 80 or 90 or beyond? You can no longer assume that your worries will be over shortly after you retire. Your health becomes a big issue because it can drain your resources faster than anything. You cannot take good health for granted; you have to work hard to make it happen. I have heard so many people declare that if they had known they were going to live so long, they would have taken better care of themselves. Everyone today needs to live with the idea that could be around for 100 or more years. Health is import, and it is a big picture that includes health care, nutrition, exercise, medication and prevention of illness or injury. Your mind and your body are going to require a high level of maintenance and care in order to avoid illness and deterioration. Many health concerns can be prevented or managed to the point where you can still enjoy a high quality of life. You can’t just sit there! If you get sick, have surgery or suffer an injury you need to focus all of your energy on making a full recovery as quickly as possible. Sinking into a mire of depression with subsequent dependency is not going to cut it.
There are so many more things to think about if you take factor longevity into the equation. The author suggested creating a strategy (a plan for your future), reviewing that plan often, and updating it regularly. Keep your eyes on the future instead of lamenting about the past. Be prepared for whatever comes.