Posted by: prataap | July 8, 2010

DEATH TREND 4: LIVING TO 125


TREND 4: LIVING TO 125   

WHEN IS MID-LIFE? MAY I PLEASE GO NOW?  

IS THERE A CHOICE?  

Emerging Trends:    

Once upon a time, living till 100 was considered a big deal. Today, in Florida alone, there are over a hundred people over 100.  Animal organ transplant, fetal cell organ growth, mind body research and gene engineering is working  to extend human life well past 100 years.  Soon gene therapies will start to become available in the next 5-10 years. The questions are already mounting. Who gets to avail themselves of the latest life extenders? The HMOs will not pay for all of it.  Even if you can live to a 125, what will be the quality of your life? Who will take care of you?  Not your children, they’ll be off playing entrepreneur in Mongolia. What if you survive your spouse and you happen to be a woman and the odds of finding a male companion suddenly drop to 1 in 20 or less? 

Sirtris a Cambridge, MA bio-tech co is in the human trial phase of distilling Reseratrol found in red wine into a pill that will preserve you well past 100. Time magazine in 2010 had a whole issue on living past 100 with a list of dos and don’ts to help you get there. Sergey Brin co-founder of Google at age 36 is racing against time to find a cure for Parkinson because his wife’s genetic testing company 23andme has found that he shares the genetic marker for Parkinsons with his mother who in her 50s has Parkinson.  That raises his odds of getting Parkinsons from 1% suddenly to over 50%. Knowing that many of us might live past 100 is hardly reassuring if you know you have a 50% chance to get a degenerative illness that could strike when you get to 50 and still have half your life ahead of you. 

Will longer life guarantee better health or simply longer misery? What if you don’t like what you find when you get to 80 and you still have another 35 years to live?  Tough questions lie ahead for us as a society who hates to talk about death and dying.  We’d better be careful what we ask for; eternal life might be just around the corner. It might be a living hell till we fine-tune the options of aging and dying.  In any case, the words “to die” as we have come to use it till now, might become obsolete by the middle of this century. Soon to be replaced by, opting out of life. 

Next Opportunities:   

Genetic testing companies like 23andme.com are poised to take off. I have got my genetic testing done. What about you?  Next will be counselors who are trained to help you navigate what you find out. And soon to follow will be early intervention medical treatments based on your genetic profile

Each day an average of 8,000 people in the US turn 60.  One third of Japan’s population is already over retirement age. Start by thinking of retirement communities that will call themselves anything but retirement communities!  Golf and tennis will be but just one of the many options that will be the focus of these communities.  They will come in all sizes, shapes, forms and combinations. Some will be on college campuses and will tie in to mentoring programs and continuing education especially for retired professors and professionals of all sorts.  Religious communities will develop with their own spiritual focus.  Others will be constituted of mixed age groups centered around a “ multi-generational village.”  Picture Sixties co-housing with various twists.  Many urban ones have already started up in (where else) Cambridge, MA and Berkeley, CA. 

 Mr. Erickson, CEO of Erickson Retirement Communities and Mr. Feeney, Atlantic Philanthropies, are just two visionaries who have recognized the burgeoning need and demand for improved quality of life as people age.  They are investing heavily in the research.

Many of these communities will focus on health and spirituality. In collaboration with spiritual coaches and physical trainers, health care professionals will be at a premium.  If you are a developer, be a pioneer and think past the current models of independent and assisted living housing for the elderly.  If you are a health care professional or coach specializing in aging, market yourself directly.  The “elderly” are the fastest growing segment of our population.  As boomers age they will want to control their destiny and they will buy all the self-help they can get their hands on.  In essence, throw out all that you think you know about aging and start again. Start planning for 2-3 re-inventions of self after age 50.  Retire the word retirement and think of “learning” as a life long activity.  

Be part of the re-thinking and re-shaping of the second phase of life in the 21st century.

Let your imagination run wild.   

Create the future and smell the roses, it’s your move!

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