How Long Are You Prepared To Live?
Want To Live Until You Are 100?
A fact: the most common answer to the question, “How long do you think you will live?” is “100 years”. It’s no surprise that most people prefer to live a long life, but there are some important things here to consider. Things like physical condition, lifestyle choices, and living preferences. The question really should be “How long are you prepared to live?” This is not meant to be one of those topics that scares you into running out to buy more life insurance or calling a financial planner (not that it isn’t a good idea), this is meant more for the exploration of understanding what getting old really looks like.
How’s your health?
If you truly do want to live well into your old age, then examining the condition of your health is going to be the top key factor as to whether you will reach this lofty goal. Here is a newsflash – as we get older our health tends to decline. We use up our parts and progressively lose our fight with gravity a bit more each day. So, without intervention, the chances are that whatever condition your health is in today, it will only decline in the future. Determining one’s present health status is a good way to help plan for future challenges and to make any needed adjustments.
Under The Hood
Let’s pretend for a second. If you were given a car, and it was the only car you could ever have, and you wanted it to last 100 years, how would you treat it? Chances are you’d treat that thing pretty well. You’d have it serviced regularly, would have something broken fixed immediately, you’d be picky about the gas you put in it, and you’d be careful not to ride around on low tires or allow rust to accumulate.
But do we do this with our own bodies? Things like having regular checkups, fixing issues as they come up, maintaining a healthy exercise regime, and following a healthy diet may determine how realistic those future plans are. While there are unfortunate things that happen, regardless of our efforts, actively seeking areas that need to be improved will have a positive impact on both the length and the quality of your life.
Fix It Now
As I spend more time with aging persons, I have developed an awareness of my own physical being. I have been to senior centers and have watched women and men well into their eighties enjoying pretty strenuous aerobics and stretching classes. And as I watch them, I think to myself, “that’s how I want to be, just like them.” But I realize that the only way I can achieve this is to be diligent with my diet and exercise and make sure to not put off dental, vision, hearing, and medical checkups. I have found that by adopting a “Live Long” attitude I see areas that will need attention and intervention now if I plan on being reasonably functional later in life.
Plan For Longevity
Thus far this post has focused primarily on dealing with the physical challenges a senior has to deal with as they age. But there are other limiting factors that can affect how (and if) a senior ages. The breadth of all of the information of what one could and should plan for in order to have the best possibility of a long life is so comprehensive that one single post surely couldn’t even begin to scratch the surface. But considering typical issues most seniors face as they age, we can compile a good “starting point” list. Below are some areas that you could plan for when trying to figure out the best way to live a long life:
Physical challenges that could limit a senior’s lifespan:
- Assess your diet and write out any necessary modifications needed
- Assess your physical fitness and write a realistic exercise schedule to maintain or improve
- Set up a schedule for regular medical exams
- Set up vision, ear, and dental checkups that reoccur on a regular cycle
- Assess if there are physical issues that can be corrected while you are in good shape and write your plan to fix them
- Write a schedule for regular mental exercises to help sharpen and maintain mental well-being
Financial challenges that could be a barrier to overcome
- Determine what living environment you prefer to be in as you age
- Determine if the living environment is financially attainable
- Establish a budget and adjust spending habits as necessary to be able to afford a long lifespan in the desired environment
- Establish fallback plans for unforeseen circumstances that include different living environments
Family/Support network issues
- Determine what family members will be supportive (potential caregivers)
- Determine what type of supportive social network you have
- Create steps to improve your social network if needed
- Create a plan to keep yourself engaged with friends and family on a regular basis
- Plan for a life without a vehicle before it happens so you will be prepared for those challenges
- Have a transportation plan that allows you to engage with others outside of your living space
- Make sure that caregivers are close enough to you to help with medical appointments and can help arrange necessary services
Now that you have taken the time to create your plan make sure to share your plan with loved ones so that you will have the help and support of those closest to you. And while this plan is by no means a guarantee for success, creating and following a plan that you have created for yourself (or a senior loved one) helps you to take control of things that could, otherwise, become a barrier to your success.