The four keys to longevity

Aug 22, 2016 @ 8:00 am

By Dr. Alexis Abramson, Ph.D

Some of the United States' oldest super-centenarians (those over 110 years of age) rank amongst the oldest people in the world.

Though we can't all expect to live beyond 110, we're certainly living longer than ever before. According to National Institute on Aging, there are more than 40 million people in the United States aged 65 or older, or about 13% of the total population. In 50 years' time, it is estimated that more than one million of us will reach the ripe old age of 100!

That said, it's never too early to start taking good care of ourselves – both with our health and with our finances. A recent BMO Wealth Institute report reveals that 84% of Americans believe that health and medical costs will have the biggest financial impact on their senior years, and they expect to dole out an average of $5,822 annually on out-of-pocket medical costs after they turn 65.

When you consider that there is a 70% chance of a retiree needing some type of long-term or in-home care, these costs can have a huge impact on a couple's retirement. It is important to take proactive measures to help curtail these expenses in the future.

Normal aging involves an ongoing physiological transformation. As your body and mind evolve and adapt, it's helpful to re-evaluate both your physical and mental status, and to determine what changes in your diet, exercise regime and general lifestyle are required to promote 'healthy' longevity. In addition, by putting the necessary tools in place as soon as you can to ensure that you have a strong retirement and financial plan and a solid social structure, you are more likely to seamlessly adjust to your senior years.

Although it's never too late to make positive changes, keeping clear goals in sight is easier when good habits are formed and incorporated over a lifetime, rather than adopted as an afterthought. It's critical that you devise a strategy that will help you to remain vigilant about all aspects of your health, well-being, personal life and financial assets. By consciously nurturing these four keys, you can unlock your potential to achieve a long and rewarding life.

(Download related white paper: The four keys to longevity)

Here, then, are the Four Keys to Longevity that can help you unlock your potential to age well and move confidently into the future:

• 1st key is the body - the master key that unlocks every other door: Longevity odds are greatly influenced by your personal lifestyle choices. So be sure to eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, and visit your doctor regularly.

• 2nd key is the mind – the fundamental key: Living your best life depends on a healthy brain. The BMO Wealth Institute report found that Americans pondering living to 100 are most concerned with losing their mental abilities (60%), followed by relying on others to take care of them (53%) and losing loved ones (52%). Keep your brain active by honing your cognitive skills (do more reading, work on puzzles like crosswords and Sudoku), exercising, working, volunteering, and keeping up with friends.

• 3rd key is social – the key to enjoying life: There's no denying it: 70 is the new 40. Today, senior wanderlust knows no boundaries when it comes to fulfilling dreams after raising a family and retiring from work. Consider spending more time on hobbies in retirement, start a new part-time job or even try learning a new language. A strong social network is also important in enjoying an ideal lifestyle in old age, so be sure to stay connected both face-to-face and virtually.

• 4th key is financial – the key to success: The more money you've saved, the more comfortable you'll feel as you age. And since we never know when we'll fall ill, it's important to tie future healthcare costs into retirement savings. The BMO report found that 84% of Americans believe their largest expenses in old age will be medical and health-related costs, followed by food, clothing and other day-to-day essentials (58%). Plan carefully by working with a financial advisor to develop a sound financial plan that incorporates a wide range of savings vehicles to fund a satisfying retirement lifestyle.

So if you're looking for a long shelf life, start making positive changes now. It's easier to keep clear goals in sight when good habits are formed and incorporated over a lifetime rather than as an afterthought. Devise a strategy that will help you remain vigilant about all aspects of your health, well-being, personal life and financial assets. By consciously nurturing the Four Keys to Longevity, you can achieve a long and rewarding life.

We believe proactive planning and professional advice go hand in hand. If you would like a copy of the BMO Wealth Institute report titled Living to 100: The four keys to longevity, visit bmogam.com/longevity.

BMO Wealth Institute, a unit of BMO Financial Group, provides this commentary to clients for informational purposes only. The comments included in this document are general in nature and should not be construed as legal, tax or financial advice to any party. Particular investments or financial plans should be evaluated relative to each individual, and professional advise should be obtained with respect to any circumstance.

BMO Global Asset Management is the brand name for various affiliated entities of BMO Financial Group that provide investment management and trust and custody services. Certain of the products and services offered under the brand name BMO Global Asset Management are designed specifically for various categories of investors in a number of different countries and regions and may not be available to all investors. Those products and services are only offered to such investors in those countries and regions in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. BMO Financial Group is a service mark of Bank of Montreal (BMO).

Alexis Abramson, Ph.D. is the leading industry expert and 'trendspotter' for those over 50. She is an inspiring speaker, blogger, corporate consultant, successful author, and award-winning entrepreneur and journalist. Her commitment to baby boomers and mature adults has been featured in many national publications, including TIME, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur and People.

Dr. Abramson is an Emmy and Gracie award-winning journalist who has appeared frequently as an on-air expert gerontologist for NBC's Today show, CNN, CBS, RLTV, MSNBC and numerous other media outlets. Dr. Alexis is a featured blogger on many top tier websites including YAHOO!, HuffingtonPost, Sharecare and Caregiving.com. She is highly-sought after as a keynote speaker at industry conferences, bringing awareness of baby boomer and mature adult issues to corporations, consumers, government agencies, and nonprofit groups.

As a proven industry consultant, Abramson is often retained to help companies make products and services accessible and userfriendly for baby boomers and mature adults. In addition, she instructs employees on how to be more sensitive to the needs of this group. Dr. Abramson has worked closely with many major organizations, including AARP, Duracell, the Arthritis Foundation, sanofiaventis, Philips Electronics, BMO Private Bank, Siemens, American Automobile Association (AAA), Hearing Life, Century 21, Humana, Walmart and many more.

She is the author of four highly-acclaimed books –The Caregivers Survival Handbook, a guide to help caregivers balance the responsibilities of caring for others and for themselves; Home Safety for Seniors, a room-by-room reference and idea book for making independent senior and home-bound living easier; The 55+ Fact Book, a collection of must- know facts, statistics, and interesting information about the 55+ demographic; and The Medicare Resource Guide, a comprehensive collection of resources and documents necessary for individuals caring for aging friends or family members.

Her dedication to baby boomers and mature adults has won Dr. Abramson a number of professional accolades, including Working Woman's Magazine's General Entrepreneurial Excellence Award, Atlanta Small business' Person of the Year Award, 40 under 40 Award, American Society of Aging's Outstanding Small Business Award, and many others. Dr. Abramson received her Doctorate in Gerontology from the prestigious University of Southern California's Davis School of Gerontology.

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