Before we dive into the 5 things retirees should do differently today, let’s take a look at the NEW MAP created by the Stanford Center on Longevity to guide long-lived societies:
- New roles and opportunities must be created so that people experience purpose, belonging, and worth at all stages of life.
- Education is a lifelong pursuit. Moreover, it has shown that education can lead to a longer life!
- Working longer will occur in multigenerational contexts. If we expand how long people work, there is a possibility of having people from four generations working together. Having such a diverse age group is beneficial for the workplace.
- Money. Opportunities to earn and save must be available throughout life to ensure financial security.
- Advances in the science of aging must be distributed broadly in the population. We, as a society, should help everyone live a longer and healthier life.
- Physical health and the prevention of disease are critical to achieving the promise of longevity. As Dr. Carstensen suggests, stop playing seated brain games all day. Get up and perform some physical exercise instead.
Now, let’s move on to the 5 things you can do differently to improve your retirement picture:
1) Forget the Traditional Sequence
Compared to 125 years ago, we are all gifted with an extra 30 years of life expectancy. Why add them only to the end of life? Perhaps you can spread them out throughout your life — study a little longer, work some, have more vacation days, and finally, enjoy more retirement.
Traditionally, most people have adopted the general life sequence: study, work, retire.
Forget the traditional sequence. Instead, you could take an extra week or month of vacation and live like a stress-free retiree while you’re still working. You can then compensate for these extra vacation weeks by working a year longer.
You don’t need to separate learning, work, and retirement anymore. Reap the benefits of the added years throughout life!
2) Focus On Personalized and Joint Life Expectancies
The life expectancies that you read online might give you the expected lifespan of a child born today. However, they can vary significantly for retirees who are already in their 60s.
For more accurate planning, you should search for:
- Personalized life expectancy: Instead of relying on averages, calculate a personalized life expectancy that is based on your age, gender, health, and lifestyle habits.
- Joint life expectancy: If you’re entering retirement as a couple, take a look at the joint life expectancy of yourself and your partner. In other words, what is the probability of either one of you making it past a certain age?
You can get estimates for both personalized and joint life expectancies on the Actuaries Longevity Illustrator.
3) Don’t Compare Your Retirement With That of Your Parents/Grandparents
A lot of 60-year-olds fear that they only have a few more years to live now.
Where does this fear stem from? For a lot of people, their parents/grandparents might have died at an earlier age because the life expectancy was lower before.
But consider this: The previous generations had fewer medical advances, underwent the harsh conditions of a world war, and perhaps also had frequent smoking habits.
Today, you have nearly 25 more years of medical advances compared to your parents and 50 more years of advances compared to your grandparents!
So, don’t compare your retirement with that of the previous generations. You very likely need to plan for a longer life.
4) Consider Working Longer
The idea of working longer and delaying retirement can seem scary. But it’s not as bad as you might think.
Research has shown that 50% of 85-year-olds feel healthy enough to work!
Working longer can be a great way to increase your retirement income. Plus, you can get the benefits of an increased Social Security and pension by delaying your retirement.
As mentioned above, working longer can also be good for your mental and physical health, leading to a longer and healthier life.
5) Note Down These Six Maxims
The following six maxims by the Stanford Center on Longevity are worth keeping in mind:
- Age diversity is a net positive for society: Young people can receive tremendous wisdom from old people. Old people can feel reinvigorated after interacting with younger folks. Overall, it’s great to have multiple generations together in a community.
- Investing in future centenarians holds big returns: If you invest in your health, education, and life early on, such as prenatal care for a baby, you can help improve the life expectancy of future generations.
- The metric of success is the alignment of health span and life span: The goal is to have not only a longer life but also a healthier life.
- Learning must occur throughout life: You’re not done learning after college. Lifelong learning enhances your mental capacity and is capable of prolonging your life.
- Work more years, but fewer hours in a day and fewer days in a week: Instead of grinding more work hours and weeks early in your career, enjoy life as you go. By working only a year or two longer in the future, you can have more vacation days off in the present!
- Life transitions are a feature, not a bug: Embrace life transitions (like retirement). They are simply a feature of life, not a problem to stress over.