As Life Expectancy Increases, Your Retirement No Longer Looks Like Your Grandfather’s Retirement
Ric Edelman: You know, one of the five subjects we focus on here on the program is health and wellness related to longevity and aging. So I'm very happy to welcome on to the program Colin Milner. He is the CEO of the International Council on Active Aging. He's a leading authority on health and well-being for older adults and was named by the World Economic Forum as one of the most innovative and influential minds in the world on aging-related topics. Colin, so good to have you here on the program with us.
Colin Milner: Well, I'm thrilled to be here, Ric. I'm looking forward to a conversation.
Ric: So let's first off talk about the understanding of our aging process. It has shifted radically over the last 30 years, hasn't it?
Colin: It has changed immensely. It has gone from being one sided towards burden and inability to now really a more balanced conversation where we've been told all of our lives, all the things that we can't do as we get older now we're being told all the things that we can do. And the change in the conversation is really changing the way that we as a population are aging.
Ric: Yeah, I think you're right. And I think back to when my grandfather was retired, I was a kid, I was 10 years old, and his health was declining, and it was just him and his recliner watching the sports on TV, and he was just literally waiting to die because that's what people generally did. You know, they retired and then within a few years, that was kind of it. That isn't at all our attitude about retirement and aging anymore.
Colin: No, we have a lot of great examples of people achieving things that we once thought were just for the young. We know that how we look at aging can impact our our longevity, our health. If we have a negative perception, it can reduce our life expectancy by 7.6 years. Just our attitude. So, you know, think positive about the way you're aging and the rest will follow, I say.
Ric: And along that notion of longevity, long-term aging, you know, everybody keeps talking about our growing lifespan. I'm involved, as you know, with the Stanford Center on Longevity and the Milken Institute for the Study of Aging. But it's not really just about that growing lifespan, is it? It's really equally important about our health span.
Colin: Well, it is right now. Life expectancy in the US is 77.3 years, but we spend 11.3 years in ill health. We want to shrink that number and expand the time that we spend in good health, which is our health span, which is where quality of life comes in.
Ric: And that's the real challenge, isn't it? Are we succeeding in shrinking that gap between old age and poor health in old age?
Colin: I think we're succeeding in different ways. We know what we need to do. We just need to do it. There was a research study that came out a few years ago from the American Heart Association that showed all we had to do was five simple things, and we could actually live 14 years longer at the age of 50. And that was not smoke, drink very little, exercise, have a proper BMI and eat proper nutritious food. Challenge was only 8% of the population was doing that. Over the course of the next two decades, we could reduce the burden of chronic health disease by 40%, and that would have a $12 trillion impact on the GDP.
Ric: Is everybody ready for this kind of a shift?
Colin: No, but think about it. We need to create some new products and services. We need to readjust the workplace, healthcare, senior living housing. We need to reskill people and so forth.
Ric: First of all, are you optimistic about that?
Colin: Absolutely. I think with the aid of technology, with the aid of new products and services, with the understanding of that, we can embrace our potential. I mean, think about it. In the early 1990s, the big news was actually older people being stronger so that they could walk up stairs. Today you have a lot of the research that are doing things like HIIT training research, which is high intensity exercise training. You know, that wasn't even thought of 20, 30 years ago. So I'm very optimistic. But at the end of the day, it comes down to the individual believing in themselves and embracing a new way of thinking.
Ric: So what's the advice you give for us as individuals so that we can embrace the future that you're suggesting is available to us?
Colin: Understand that you can. And for those who tell you you can't, cast them aside. Really understanding who you are, what you're capable of, what you want to do. The new definition of healthy aging is being able to do the things you want to do when you want to do them and with who you want to do them. The question is, are we actually achieving that? And I would say we have a long way to go, but it all starts with you recognizing your identity and that you can as opposed to that you can't.
Ric: We're talking with Colin Milner, who is the CEO of the International Council on Active Aging. Talk about the work you're doing at your organization and how people can get benefits from it.
Colin: Sure. Our organization launched actually two weeks after 9/11 and our goal was very simple - to change the way we age. And it has always been our contention that if you have a healthier, older population, you will change things like ageism. You'll change things like the ability to find employment, the mindset in regards to healthcare, the products and services that are being built for individuals. So our goal has always been to provide the education, information, resources and tools needed by professionals who work with older adults. And the sad part was when we first started, the definition of an older adult was 50 plus. Come on. So we provide that knowledge for an industry that is helping to change the way their clients age.
Ric: And if people want to reach you, how can they do that?
Ric: That's Colin Milner who is the CEO and founder of the International Council on Active Aging. Colin, thanks so much for joining us on the show today.
Colin: It's been my pleasure, Ric.
Ric: Colin and I actually spoke for about 15 minutes. If you would like to watch the entire video cast or listen to the entire podcast, just go to TheTruthAYF.com.