Live Long and Prosper
In June I attended the largest conference of Financial Advisors which was being hosted by the city of Vancouver. This was my 9th consecutive year of attending and very likely one of the most beneficial for my clients.
Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) is a global independent association of more than 43,000 of the world’s leading life insurance and financial service professionals from more than 500 companies in 67 countries. This year 11,000 met in Vancouver to continue to grow and share best practices.
The big theme at this year’s conference was longevity. People are living longer and longer. Time magazine published a cover in 2015 with a picture of a baby stating “This baby could live to be 142.”
If we look at what has happened over the past 100 years or so, we can already see the changes. Take my own family. My Dad retired at age 63 expecting to live another 10 years at most. Well, he ended up living another 23 years! My Mom and Dad died at ages 89 and 86 respectively. They were heavy smokers, serious enjoyers of Black Label beer, didn’t go to the gym every day and didn’t wear Fit Bits. My Dad served in World War II, worked in a factory most of his life and to boot, had the stress of raising six kids and being unemployed due to factory shutdown. My Mom was diagnosed with TB when she signed up for the War effort and was told to never have children (see six kids, above). She worked in various factory settings, as well as selling Avon. Yet they both lived to a very ripe old age.
They passed away 6 months apart in 2007 and 2008.
So when I think about how long I am going to live, I can see myself at age 100. Especially once I get my self-driving car, bionic eyes, replacement knees and little nano-bots inside of me making repairs and adjustments.
When clients come in and say they expect to live to age 80, I actually worry for them. What if they are wrong? What if they live to age 90 or more? Will they be healthy or bedridden? Will they have dementia? Who will care for them? We have a new dynamic here.
As Financial Planners we have an obligation to ensure our clients know their options including such things as guaranteed income for life, Long Term Care Insurance and Critical Illness Insurance. Like every practitioner in every occupation, these are only tools in a tool bag, not needed by some and a definite asset for others.
But there is another side to this. While we should try to take care of the downside of getting old, we should also realize those improvements in technology are not only going to have us living longer, but also living healthier. We can travel more, spend more time enjoying our children, grandchildren and maybe even great grandchildren. If we can’t play tennis, well maybe pickle ball is for you. Working part-time and volunteering can add months and years to a healthy life. So let’s not forget our own responsibilities to improve our health.
In 2008 I suffered a heart incident while skiing in Whistler. You know, when you think you smell burnt toast. Well, being me, I ignored it. I got back to Kingston and noticed how difficult it was to climb a flight of stairs. Then I actually had a buddy call me and tell me that he had a dream about me dying from a heart attack (and he didn’t know about all of this).
So I went to ER and within minutes had a battery of tests that confirmed I was okay. Except the doctor thought that based on my story I needed one more test and booked me in for a stress test. Three minutes into it, the nurse stopped the test, called in the cardiologist, they read my results and booked me in for stents and/or more serious surgery the next week.
So why do I tell you this? Because up to that time I really wasn’t taking care of myself. Shortly thereafter my son Jacob met with me to deliver a letter he had written about his concerns for my health. About how he and his sisters wanted to have me around for a long time, to be able to enjoy those future grandchildren. It was a very emotional call to action.
Jacob had researched gyms and trainers for me to interview. He got prices, what they offered and contact info. I had no choice – I had to become involved in my health.
I now go to a great gym and have a trainer who pushes me hard twice a week. Before I started this, I would get serious headaches after just a minute or two, but no longer. So while I am waiting for technology to catch up and develop those nano-bots for me, I am also assuming personal responsibility for my own longevity. I urge you to do that as well.
If you would like to know more please send me an email or give me a call.
Originally published in 2002 and later made into a film, this memoir is a series of conversations between a young man and his mentor, who is dying of ALS. It’s not an easy read, but it is full of life lessons and will make you think about your own mortality and legacy.
Get it from Amazon or your local bookshop.
About Michael Caldwell
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