Living to see 100 isn’t as uncommon as it used to be. Statistics and ongoing medical progress suggest that most people in their twenties and thirties today are highly likely to hit that century-old milestone.
It’s estimated that there are over a half-million centenarians worldwide, many of whom still lead active, fulfilling lifestyles. While there’s no supreme secret to turning 100, some general notions appear to make long-term survival more likely.
Eating well, getting a required amount of sleep and exercising seem like prominent advice but are widely ignored by the general population. Medical progress and technology increasingly help us fill in the gaps where our health is concerned, and even conditions like Alzheimer’s, cancer and dementia are front-and-center regarding research developments.
The challenge to extended life expectancy doesn’t necessarily lie in turning 100 but the journey and preparation that lead up to it. Today, most people are still operating under the assumption that they’ll likely retire at 60, lean on government-paid pensions for a couple of decades, and kick the bucket right around 80, as most of our grandparents or parents have.
Unfortunately (for those who are fixed on this projection), that’s not the most likely outcome. If current statistics are even mostly accurate, people born during or after the 1980s can expect to reach 100. Still, realistically, they won’t be retired for forty years before that happens.
As average life expectancy continues to climb, other significant milestones shift respectively. This means the average age of retirement, for most people, could actually be closer to 80. Even more horrifying is the harsh reality that their income will most likely need to be independently generated.
This means what your parents have told you for years: it’s never too early to start saving for retirement. Without the safety net of ever-dwindling government support programs, most future retirees will need to enter that stage of their life with a heavily-guarded nest egg of personal savings and investments.
Preparing for a longer-than-expected future doesn’t have to be painstaking. Experts recommend distributing your bonus years evenly throughout a lifetime, rather than thinking of them as an extra 20 years tacked onto the end. Those additional “bonus years” we’re gaining over previous generations can be thoroughly enjoyed and used wisely, well before you’re old and gray.
Adopting a smart lifestyle and financial habits early in life are the best way to prepare for a long, healthy future. Establishing a tolerable relationship with physical exercise, dedicating yourself to healthy eating habits and pursuing plentiful sleep is easy to do in your twenties. Studies have shown that people who adopt healthy habits at a young age are more likely to stick with them into late adulthood.
Preparing financially for a long life bears a similar structure. The sooner you begin saving, no matter what age you plan on retiring, the better off you’ll be. Fortunately, young adults are already a step ahead of this strategy. Transamerica recently reported that approximately 70% of GenZ are already saving for retirement and, on average, began doing so at the age of 19.
If you haven’t started saving yet, don’t fret. While you may not have a 60-year jump on retirement savings, it’s never too late to open an IRA and take control of your financial destiny.
The best way to prepare for a full 100 years on Earth is to reshape your outlook. Grit and mindset have a proven effect on the overall outcome of a situation or experience, from health to finances. Simply believing that one has control over their financial future can help one improve finances.
The same is true for health. Maintaining a positive outlook on life, and celebrating your body for the incredible things it can do, even after 80, is the key to living a healthier, more fulfilled life. Just don’t let your laser focus on the future prevent you from enjoying the present. After all, a well-lived life isn’t only about how long we’ve lived but also about the meaning with which we fill these years.
Buckle up, get ready for a long trip, and don’t forget to enjoy the ride.