This summer, we've seen some very high-profile examples of just how much the norms on aging are changing.
Once again, 61-year-old Tom Cruise scaled box office heights all over the world.
81-year-old Martha Stewart graced the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
Music legends Paul McCartney, Ringo Star, Dolly Parton, Peter Frampton, and Mick Fleetwood collaborated on a cover of "Let It Be" that hit the Billboard charts.
The Rolling Stones released their first new song in 18 years.
And at the end of August, arguably the most famous and influential investor in the world, Warren Buffett, turned 93.
These are just a few of the "age influencers" who embody major trends in an important new study by Age Wave, "the nation’s foremost thought leader on issues relating to an aging population." Let's look at four key insights from The New Age of Aging that are changing how folks should think about and plan for their golden years.
1. A major demographic shakeup.
For the first time in history, according to Age Wave, older adults will soon outnumber our nation's youth. Due, in part, to the baby boomer generation's size, health, and active lifestyles, Age Wave anticipates that by 2050 there will be 86 million people in the U.S. aged 65 and older and 78 million under 18. And while short-term life expectancy projections dipped during the pandemic, Age Wave says that today's 65-year-olds should expect to live into their 80s and beyond.
That change to our demographics does come with a warning that "Our society is largely unprepared for this," Age Wave says. "Workplaces, homes, medical systems, media, educational systems, transportation, shopping centers, and our digital world will and must all evolve to meet the new age of aging.”
And, on a personal level, while your parents and grandparents might have needed their nest eggs to last a decade or less, current and soon-to-be retirees should be planning for decades -- plural -- of living in retirement.
2. 80 is the new 60.
According to Age Wave's survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults (including over 900 adults 50 and older), the word "old" used to mean someone in their 60s. Today, "old" has aged 20 years and means someone in their 80s.
But age is more than a number! Respondents also told Age Wave that today's seniors are "more active, more open-minded, and more curious" than yesterday's seniors. "Old" also means taking care of yourself so that your health span -- the number of years in which you're in generally good health -- more closely matches your lifespan. In fact, 71% of adults 50 years and older told Age Wave they’d take a pill that would give them an extra 50 healthy years!
I have to think that technology plays a big role in those trends -- not just our advances in health care but also our advances in how we connect with the world. For all the negative effects that social media and the internet can have on how we think about our lives and our investments, we're also exposed to so many more people, ideas, and perspectives. Seniors on the other side of the country can watch their grandkids grow up. An uncountable number of books, movies, and classes are available at your fingertips. And those age influences I mentioned above are more visible and more connected to their audiences than ever before, inspiring seniors to keep living and growing.
3. The best is yet to come.
This is one of my favorite phrases and beliefs. When signing a copy of my book for someone, I nearly always write these words before my signature – and the surveys show that the majority agree with me. 71% of respondents 65 and older told Age Wave that the best time of their life is right now or in front of them. That same group also reported higher levels of happiness and freedom compared to younger age groups, as well as much lower levels of anxiety.
No wonder a majority of today's seniors prefer to think about "longevity" rather than "aging." Whereas previous generations may have viewed retirement as an ending, focusing on longevity can completely reframe what's possible in retirement. As your old career ends, a new stage begins -- one that might even include a new career, entrepreneurial endeavors, or volunteer positions. You will also have opportunities to travel, dive deeper into your interests, and have new adventures.
4. The power of purpose.
Dovetailing with Age Wave's findings on the potential that seniors are seeing in their golden years is the importance of purpose. 83% of respondents 65 and older said that it is more important for them to feel “useful” than “youthful” in their retirement years.
On a recent podcast for Barron's, Age Wave Founder and CEO Dr. Ken Dychtwald told my buddy Steve Sanduski, "People today are thinking of this new stage of life almost like a third age for them. And they call it a whole new chapter in life. They don't view it just as a wind-down. The stage of life we used to call retirement is getting all turned upside down right now. My grandparents were not worried about purpose in their later years. They knew they had a few years to go before their batteries were out. New generations of retirees want someone to guide them on, 'What can I be doing? How can I make something of myself? How can I be purposeful? How can I be useful versus youthful?'"
These are certainly some of the most meaningful conversations that we have with folks at Keen Wealth. I consider Purpose to be a cornerstone of a successful retirement blueprint. And I believe that our comprehensive planning process can help folks achieve that sense of purpose and make retirement more meaningful and rewarding.
If any of Age Wave’s findings really resonate with you, call up Keen Wealth and let’s discuss how you want to connect purpose, longevity, and financial security in your retirement plan.
Bill Keen is a financial advisor with nearly 30 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he focuses on providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.
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