By 2050, average life expectancy in the U.S. is expected to be 84 years, against 79 years now, and it is forecast that by then there will be more than 1 million centenarians living in the country.
The baby boomers now entering what were traditionally considered the retirement years will be the ones turning 100. They see themselves entitled to live longer more healthily and happily, and with greater financial security than their predecessors.
And they can do, a new report sponsored by the Bank of Montreal’s BMO Wealth Institute says, if they have a longevity plan.
There are four keys to living to be a hundred and healthy, the reports says; you need to keep your body, mind, social networks and finances in the pink of condition.
- Key no 1 is the body. The report cites research by Dr. Dean Ornish at the University of California, San Francisco that concludes that “healthy eating, exercise and stress reduction can not only reverse some diseases—it may actually slow down the aging process at the genetic level.” As well as personal lifestyle choices, the report highlights the importance to adequate sleep, regular stretching and deep breathing, physical exercise taken at least three times a week, and a healthy diet of fresh foods.
- Key no 2 is the mind. The brain, just like the muscles of the body, requires regular exercise to keep the mind sharp. The report points to four ways to boost your brain power as you age: cognitive training, aerobic exercise, not smoking and maintaining your social networks.
- Key no 3 is maintaining an active social network. Researchers at the Institute of Economic Affairs in the U.K. found retirement to be associated with a significant increase in clinical depression and a decline in self-assessed health. Spending more time on hobbies and travel, starting part-time jobs and volunteering are ways to counteract that by boosting your level of social interaction, supplementing your income, and providing a productive way to fill your time.
- Key no 4 is finances. As a report from a financial institution might well suggest, an important component of successful longevity is having a sense of financial security. This is cited as a lower priority than maintaining a social network of family and friends by the majority of Americans surveyed for the report. But the report warns that many Americans underestimate the future costs of healthcare that they will face.
Based on the BMO report's findings, keeping mentally and physically active and enjoying the simpler pleasures of life with friends and family are the keys to keeping those future costs to a minimum.