At 80, “Successful Ager” Jack Nicklaus Remains As Relevant As Ever

Golfing great Jack Nicklaus turned 80 last week. His drives aren’t as long anymore- Gary Player can now outdrive him.  Jack stepped away in 2018 from day-to-day operations of his companies which build golf courses all over the world.  You might think Mr. Nicklaus is slowing down.  But to hear Jack tell it, he got rid of the things he was tired of doing and is focusing on all the activities he likes; including public speaking engagements, occasional golf exhibitions, course design and fundraising with his wife.

Nicklaus started designing courses in 1969.  He’s completed over 300. He’s become a grandfather to the “kids” on the PGA tour such as Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas. Rory McIlroy says that Nicklaus “has the best advice on how to play golf- not how to swing but how to play the game.”  Jack’s wife of 60 years, Barbara, is chair of the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation and together they have raised over $50 million for pediatric care in Ohio and Florida.  They just pledged to raise another $100 million over the next five years.  Yes, Jack Nicklaus remains relevant as ever and, by any definition, is successfully aging.

Much has changed since Social Security was started in 1935.  Back then, the average life expectancy was 61 years old.  In 1947, the poet Dylan Thomas encouraged the elderly: “Do not go gentle into that good night, old age should burn and rage at close of day.” It’s starting to happen. With greater longevity and medical advances, it’s no surprise that the term “successful aging” has grown in popularity over the past few decades.  Back in 1987, John Wallis Rowe and Robert Kahn published a book entitled “Successful Aging.”  They felt there were three key factors: 1) being free of disability or disease, 2) having high cognitive and physical abilities, and 3) interacting with others in meaningful ways.

Now comes a new NYT bestseller; Dr. Daniel Levitin’s “Successful Aging; a neuroscientist explores the power and potential of our lives.”  Today more people who are in the last quarter of their lives are engaged with life as much as they’ve ever been, immersed in social interactions, spiritual pursuits, hiking and nature, charitable work and even starting new professional projects.  Dr. Levitin remarks:  “They may look old, but they feel like the same people they were 50 years ago and this amazes them.”

Successful aging involves focusing on what is important to you, and being able to do what you want to do in old age. While successful aging may be one way to describe how well we age, the concept of meaningful aging might be another important way to consider how to age well.   Certainly, some of our faculties may have slowed, yet “seniors” are finding strength in compensatory mechanisms that have kicked in – positive changes in mood and outlook, punctuated by the exceptional benefits of experience.  Baby boomers and their elders may process information more slowly than younger generations but they can intuitively synthesize a lifetime of information and make smarter decisions based on decades of learning, often from their mistakes.

Combining recent developments in neuroscience and psychology, “Successful Aging” presents a novel approach to how we think about our final decades. The book demonstrates that aging is not simply a period of decay but a unique time, like infancy or adolescence, which brings forth its own demands, surprises and happiness.

Until about thirty years ago, older people in the workforce were forced/encouraged to retire; a tremendous economic and creative loss.  However, since the 1990s, the tide has been turning for seniors. Employers and organizations are awakening to the eastern idea that the elderly may not only be of some value but may provide superior enhancements to a group.   New medical advances and positive lifestyle changes can help us to find enhanced fulfillment that previous generations may not have been able to do.

Research now shows, for example, that fending off Alzheimer’s disease involves five key components:  1) a diet rich in vegetables, 2) moderate physical exercise, 3) brain training exercise, 4) good sleep hygiene, and 5) an appropriate regimen of supplements.  In addition, research shows that social stress can lead to a compromised immune system. We don’t need to be victims; we just need to take advantage of modern medicine and make some lifestyle changes.

When older people look back on their lives and are asked to pinpoint the age at which they were the happiest, what do you think they say? The age that comes up most often, according to Dr. Levitin, as the happiest time in one’s life is 82. And, that number is rising.

At DWM, we work with clients from 0 to 96.  As total wealth managers, we understand life cycle planning, financial and investment strategies and proactively provide value-added services.  Of course, we focus on making sure our clients have enough money for their entire lives.  In addition, and as important, we pay particular attention to helping them experience the best life possible with the money they have.  Their fulfillment is our fulfillment. Their happiness is our happiness.

Jack Nicklaus’s longtime PR man Scott Tolley says Jack still only operates at two speeds, “go and giddy-up.”  Gary Player calls retirement a death warrant.  It doesn’t need to be.  Successful aging is getting easier and more fun and fulfilling.  C’mon baby boomers- let’s giddy-up.

Aging Wisely

Aging WiselyThe good news is more Americans are living longer and healthier lives. There are medical breakthroughs and commitments to healthy lifestyles that have redefined the terms of “retirement”. However, this comes with many difficult decisions that face seniors, future seniors, or “sandwich generation” children helping aging parents as they choose how to best age wisely and gracefully. And many Baby Boomers and subsequent generations will need to approach these issues differently than their predecessors because of longer life spans, uncertainty about entitlement benefits and rising medical costs that impact these choices like never before.

Of course, there is no way to precisely predict what each individual’s mental and physical health might look like as time goes by. There are several factors in play to choose the best path: physical and emotional status of the senior, convenience, family participation and cost, for example. The trend has been to find a way to live independently. Many are choosing to stay in their home and have it retrofitted with safety or convenience items to make it more feasible to stay there. For instance: first floor bedrooms, special chairs, ramps, bath and bed handles or even voice-activated command items. There are many perks to this living-at-home arrangement. There is minimal impact on comfortable routines and the familiar surroundings can be uniquely suited to the individual. Family members can stay more in charge. In fact, it is estimated that some 80% of senior care is provided by family and friends. Home care services can offer a supplement to the burdens of those nearest and dearest. There are many levels of home care to consider, depending on the condition and needs of the senior. Some may try using 100% family and friends to help or alternatively combine a regular care-giver with home care service that can provide homemaking, companionship, personal care, transportation or even specialized live-in or respite care to give the regular caregiver a break. Many resources for seniors or their caregivers are available to give support and advice. Overall, aging-in-place can be a more cost-effective and less disruptive choice. Check out AARP, Angie’s List, or other web resources for information.

Independent living can also be achieved in a more managed setting. There are many senior communities that have private senior homes, apartments or rooms, but that share other parts of life with the community. This can mean participating in meal plans, transportation and recreational activities. There are many benefits with this choice in terms of safety and socialization, while maintaining some independence. There may be on-site medical care or easy access and transportation to medical facilities and appointments. Socializing, dining and interacting with others in your age group is known to combat depression and benefit digestion and general well-being. There may be help with personal or home maintenance tasks. This solution can be a reassuring transition for seniors and their families and not as burdensome on individual caregivers.

Finally, there is the assisted living or nursing home option. This solution can be for long-term care or for a finite recuperative scenario. Assisted living facilities can provide varying degrees of care, but usually there is basic on-site medical care or physical therapy, assistance with personal daily activities like bathing and dressing, preparation and service of meals and the ability to stay in a safe and controlled environment. This situation generally also provides much-needed socialization and recreational activities for the seniors. About 60-70% of people over 65 will need some type of long-term assistance during retirement. These types of facilities can average $200 per day or more and sometimes up to $100,000 a year, which can be daunting for those that are unprepared.

Funding for long-term care is typically done using one or a combination of the following:

  1. Self-funding using your personal investment resources.
  2. Purchasing a Long-Term Care Insurance Policy that typically provides a daily benefit (after a 90 day “elimination” period) for home care or a facility, subject to limits on number of years and total dollars paid.
  3. Opting for a reverse mortgage. More people are using their home to stay at home. The FHA-insured Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program has recently undergone major changes by lowering fees and providing more flexibility in their use.

Decisions on how best to age wisely and gracefully are among the most important and difficult an individual or family will make. At DWM, we help you evaluate your future residential needs or long-term care options as you age. Planning for your future will ease the burden for you and your loved-ones and allow you to truly get the most you can from your Golden Years! Give us a call, we are happy to help.

Mind-blowing Technologies Expected in 20 Years

AI handKeeping up with all the change in the world is not easy. Futurist George Dvorsky wrote a very interesting article this month in which he outlined 10 futuristic technologies that he believes will appear by the 2030s. These include artificial intelligent personal assistants, anti-aging intervention, megascale geoengineering to combat climate change, personal fabricators and industrial scale desalination. They blew my mind. Here’s why:

AI personal assistants. Many of us have used SIRI on our Apple iphone. It responds to specific language cues and can access the internet. According to Mr. Dvorsky, that’s nothing compared to what will be available twenty years from now. Our personal assistants will be available 24/7 and exhibit an uncanny level of general intelligence. They will know everything about us and be our virtual clones. They’ll write emails for us, book appointments, perform menial tasks and even anticipate our needs.

Computers Everywhere. Computers are getting smaller and will be everywhere, but for the most part, completely invisible-absorbed into our surroundings. They will be in our clothes, our fashion accessories and even our contact lenses. And, these devices will have a certain amount of “ambient intelligence” to help them perform autonomously under specific conditions. Mr. Dvorsky believes that in the 2030s, we will be completely surrounded by computers, but unaware of their presence.

Anti-Aging Intervention. There is nothing available today to slow down or reverse the effects of aging. But, there may be in 20 years. Futurists and gerontologists are not sure what form this intervention will take. It may be a genetic tweak. Today, there are studies being conducted to map the genetic constitutions of supercentenarians to isolate the factors that extend their lives. It might involve therapy on our telomeres, which are like plastic tips on shoelaces because they prevent chromosome ends from fraying and sticking to one another. Or, says Mr.Dvorsky, it could be an initiative to replenish our mitochondria, the cell’s power producers. Perhaps I should start thinking about inviting folks to my 120th birthday party. Could be a wild event.

Megascale Geoengineering Project. Historically low levels of sea ice, rampant wildfires, superstorms, and record breaking are hard to ignore. The climate is changing. Already some scientists are working on a geoengineering solution to reverse the effects of rampant carbon emissions. Their solution is cloud whitening- the seeding of marine stratocumulus clouds with a generous supply of tiny sea water particles. Other techniques include artificial trees, enhanced weathering, ocean fertilization and alkalinity enhancement.

Personal Fabricators at Home. Most everyone knows that Jay Leno owns lots of antique cars and motorcycles. But, did you know that he uses 3D printing to produce parts to repair them? With 3D printing, you download specs, or scan a part and produce the finished product at home. 3D printing can be used for day-to-day items and electronics, vaccines, self-assembling robots and more. As more blueprints are available online, 3D printing will likely be quite disruptive to traditional manufacturing.

The Oceans Will Quench the World’s Thirst. Mr. Dvorsky suggests that industrial-scale desalination is expected by the 2030s. Using advancements in solar power, we will be able to build massive concentrated solar power plants that utilize the residual heat to strip ocean water of its salt. Experts predict that growing freshwater deficits could be increasingly covered sometime in the next 10-20 years. These desalination plants could produce most of the safe drinking water by the year 2030 and afterwards.

Yes, change is everywhere. At DWM, we embrace change. We are committed to understanding the new economy, the ever-changing investment options and all the other tools available to give every client better information and better choices to protect and enhance their legacies.