When I talk to people about living longer I can see their thought processes develop as the real implications begin to dawn. Initially the subject is dismissed as ‘something they already know’. There are constant media reports covering many of the common implications – growing demands on the health service, an increase in state pension age and so on.
Only when they start to personalize it to themselves and their friends and family do they start to think more deeply. Working to the age of 90 is a wake up call but then so is the thought of providing personal care for your parents when you are in your 70s!
Most people tend to think of living longer as an arithmetic progression – we are all just living ‘a bit longer’. Their fundamental expectations of life do not change. The kids will leave home in their late teens and work until 65 when they will retire to enjoy an old age. However, globally human life expectancy has increased so rapidly that a radical rethink is required. In China and India life expectancy has nearly doubled in less than a (new) life-time. A radical re-think is required.
In western economies the increase has been less dramatic, but there is real value in re-setting your expectations. Here are some starters:
Leaving home: In some families the process of ‘leaving home’ can take every bit as long as childhood. While the end of school may signal the first foray into the wider world ‘Generation Rent’ have a habit of coming back – again and again! The UK average age for first time property buyers is nearly 35 while in London it is 10 years later. Don’t rent out your spare room just yet!
Inheritance: Don’t bank on a mid-life cash injection to sort out your finances. Living longer affects us all and parents are living to see their children join them in retirement. Some families use that ‘inheritance’ to help the off-spring leave home.
60+: Traditionally this has been viewed as the move into ‘old age’ however, for many, not only are their parents still around, so are their children. Instead, we need to view 60 – 85 as a whole new phase of life. Increasingly, as pensions become less valuable, people will need to work but this is an opportunity for a second career – this time doing what you want without the pressures of raising a family or paying a mortgage.
Make the most of it!