Posted on Aug 16, 2019, 3 p.m.
Most Americans shared a similar view of retirement 50 years ago; one left a 9-5 job and transitioned into the golden years of a period of 10-15 years to live off of a pension plan and enjoy leisure for the rest of life. Skip forward to modern day, and it becomes much harder to say what retirement is.
Some people simply can’t afford to retire, and for some who are more fortunate retirement can stretch for 30 years or more, which involves a series of new chapters that form various periods of leisure, work, and giving back to society.
Life expectancy for most of human evolution was 18-20 years, by the mid 1800s this had reached the mid 30s, and in 1900 it reached 47 years in America. Moving forward life expectancy reached 77 years by the end of the century to gain an unprecedented 30 years. Childhood mortality was also reduced due to most of the gains in the first half of the century. Since 1950, life expectancy hit 65 years and has been increasing by about 3 months a year.
Most people think about extension of longevity in terms of an aging population as being a burden on society, which in all fairness can be seen as accurate in some cases. But there is another view, we have the opportunity to look for another perspective, that of reshaping current models so that we live longer in a way that improves the quality of life at all ages; and this is where anti-aging and regenerative approaches come into play, as this is exactly what they have to offer and bring to the table.
One of the problems of living longer is that in modern day most people are not able to save enough to support themselves for 30 years or more of not working, nor can society provide enough in terms of pension to support them. Moving in a direction of a longer and more flexible working life with more part time work options would allow people to move in and out of the workforce, and provide greater opportunities for education throughout life.
Currently most of life activity is packed in during midlife, this is when we work the hardest, and may be raising children or taking care of older relatives. When we hit 65 it becomes the time for retirement and leisure, which to no surprise many look forward to enjoying after working so hard for many years. After retirement it is basically a blank canvas of having nothing to really do, which can be hard for people after being so active. But it doesn’t have to be that way, what if people worked longer with these extended lifespans, which could improve the quality of life for everyone.
Current people retire and watch any savings they have dwindle, as well as many have to rely on pension plans which can be nervous to anyone, especially when it comes to inflation. But if one were to keep working on a relaxed part time basis this income would help to better protect against inflation, and provide comfort in knowing that there is still a little money coming in.
Psychologically working is good for you, as it provides a sense of knowing that there is a place that needs you, and engagement has been shown to he good for cognition as the brain benefits from learning, stimulation, engaging, and doing new things to keep cognitive function and brain health from declining.
There is something to be said for experience, and older workers may be a wealth of information which can be of benefit to the workforce and society. As baby boomers get ready to leave the workforce, who are our most experienced and knowledgeable workers who make up the bulk of the workforce, this brings us to a point in history where all hands may be needed on deck to fill the void, people will be needed to contribute to society and most want to. The workforce is shrinking, meaning employers need to resign the workplace to accommodate older workers by improving ergonomics and such.
Retirement doesn’t have to be simply sitting around, we are healthier for longer now and capable of being far more active. We need to look at life in another direction rather than presuming people will follow the old typical life path of going to school, getting a job, getting married, buying a house, having kids, and then retiring. The new model in modern day is different, most Americans are not following this path anymore. We need to think about how our lives will be different when we are older, and what challenges and opportunities are in the new model where we are living longer, healthier, active lives.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.