Unless the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse pay us a visit, and with the current global geopolitical discourse it’s not out of the question, this generation is going to live longer than any in history. We are healthier, more active and receiving better preventative care. And on top of that, modern science, technology and medicine is aiming to slow the ageing process further.
The cumulative effect of these changes to life expectancy is called ‘the longevity effect’.
Let’s look at some of the cutting-edge advances in slowing biological ageing, as well as what you can do right now to stay more than just young at heart (as opposed to actually young, which sadly many of us aren’t anymore).
You’ve probably seen, or perhaps used, products like AncestryDNA that can give you a genealogical profile from your saliva. Science is continuing its progress on more sophisticated versions of this technology that will be able to use your genes to test for serious diseases and potentially even test for genes that are associated with longevity and identify others that could shorten your lifespan.
Leaving aside the ethical debate around these advancements, if scientists can perfect this ‘road map’ for life expectancy, the implications for your financial planning could be enormous. An accurate life expectancy could make it much easier to plan ahead for decisions around retirement, medical expenses or perhaps deciding to enjoy your early retirement years more and worry less about running out of money if your longevity results are a little more disappointing.
Fighting ‘zombie cells’
The cells in our bodies are constantly dividing. Those that don’t, but refuse to die, are senescent cells – the so-called ‘zombie cells’ – and they can build up in our bodies over time and interfere with how our healthy cells operate.
Scientists are looking for ways to clear out zombie cells via ‘interventions’ such new types of drugs1. Clear out the zombies, and you’re potentially eliminating cellular environments ripe for things like cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis. The more resistant we are to these kinds of diseases, the greater our longevity will be. And the longer you live without having to cope with a debilitating disease, the longer you’ll be able to work part-time, volunteer, play your favourite sports and vacation with your favourite people.
In the meantime
There’s no guarantee that these specific medicines and technologies will be ready for the general public in the next 20 years. But it is safe to assume that advances, both gradual and rapid, will continue to improve the quality of your health care.
These life extending advances will impact upon the life that you will lead in the future and you should start factoring some into your financial planning now. We are already seeing governments making provisions for their citizens’ longevity risk through increasing retirement ages and setting up investments like our very own Future Fund. But they will likely be insufficient to offset the costs of providing for this. It is fair to say that you will need to make sure that you have enough savings to self-fund these additional years.
Living longer, healthier lives means you will be working, playing, pursuing your hobbies and being more mobile later in life. It’s an exciting prospect but it also means that you will need to fund that lifestyle for a much longer period. The key will be finding the right balance between work and lifestyle pursuits that best suit you. We like to think that this focus on ‘return on life’ is what sets us apart from other financial advisory firms.
This is the key focus that drives our business and creates fantastic outcomes that are specifically tailored to our clients. Our goal is to make sure that when you decide to retire you have a purpose to get out of bed each morning and enough money to sleep soundly at night.
So, while we’re all waiting for the next big medical breakthrough and trying to adopt the adage that prevention is the best cure, good planning will go a long way towards a long and healthy retirement. Go to the doctor. Eat well. Exercise. Wear sunscreen. Pursue your passions with a vigour that will keep your body and mind active.
And any time you want to review how your planing will take care of you at every phase of your life, please give us a call.
Andrew Aylward is Chief Investment Officer at Keep Wealth Partners.
Keep Wealth Partners Pty Ltd (AFSL 494858). This information is of a general nature only and may not be relevant to your particular circumstances. The circumstances of each investor are different and you should seek advice from a financial planner who can consider if the strategies and products are right for you.