The Australian Seniors Series: The 100 Year Lifespan
We now live in an age where we’re retiring later, starting families later – even pursuing our dream careers later in life. The reality is we are living longer compared to previous generations and reaching the age of 100 looks much more promising than ever before. Not to mention, the way we view ourselves is vastly different to the stereotypes that exist.
Surveying 5,000 Australians over 50, The Australian Seniors Series: 100 Year Lifespan report aims to shed light on the thoughts and opinions of our demographic, whilst exploring the opportunities and challenges of an increasing life expectancy and what this means for society, as well as for us as individuals.
Our third act
Retirement is no longer our curtain call. It’s the start of another act, and quite possibly our best yet. In fact, over half (57.4%) of us think the term ‘retired’ should be retired. Particularly as close to three-quarters (74.6%) of us see this milestone as more of a transition rather than an event, and a similar amount (76.9%) of us see this phase as the beginning of something rather than the ending of something. It’s our chance to travel more, explore, pursue new passions or even graduate university.
Is society ready for the influx of centenarians?
With today’s cost of living, current support services and infrastructure, it’s no surprise that more than three-quarters (75.9%) of us believe society is underprepared for a life expectancy of 100, we must ask ourselves, will we live comfortably with these extra years under our belts?
With this projected life expectancy, we may choose to stay in the workforce longer and postpone retirement. Over three in five (61.8%) of us believe living longer requires more extended time in the workforce, even if it is only on a part-time basis, and one in three (34.8%) of us predict that we will re-enter the workforce or return to study. Meanwhile, some of us who are already retired, admit financial pressures have already led to a return to the workplace (34.0%).
Further to this, the vast majority (82.3%) feel it is important that we are able to fund our own retirement with over half of us citing having more control over our next chapter (56.1%) and supporting a higher standard of living (51.5%) as the main drivers behind this. So this movement towards working for longer is something that is becoming more common and, more important to us.
However, it’s not just affordability that keeps us working, two in five (39.6%) of us are content with the daily grind and continuing to work gives us a sense of purpose or fulfilment in life.
Working later in life or planning to re-enter the workforce in some capacity may also be the drawcard for where we choose to live. More than half (52%) of us prefer to settle in greater metropolitan areas. Interestingly, almost one in four (23.7%) of us are open to what some refer to as a 'C Change', a move to a city, an area of great culinary choices, café hotspots, booming culture or career advantages - or put simply, a move to a more metropolitan area.
With newfound ambition, the prospect of additional time to accomplish and achieve our life goals as well as to simply do the things we want, we are settling on the age of 92 as the average age we would like to live up to, providing physical and mental health remain intact.
Interestingly, a large majority of us (83%) would rather not think about how long we are going to live for, whereas close to four in five (78.9%) feel relaxed about accepting when our time will come. When evaluating what we really want to live for, more than a third (31.5%) of us believe living to 100 means more time to spend with family and loved ones.
The three-quarter life crisis – what does this new transition mean?
As our life expectancy continues to increase life events can sometimes happen later than we may have originally anticipated, more than half (53.7%) of us believe the mid-life crisis has shifted to a later stage and is increasingly being replaced with the ‘three-quarter life crisis’. In fact, a third (31.9%) of us admit to experiencing this new iteration of the mid-life crisis and over two in five (45.9%) have seen others go through one.
And, despite the negative connotation that may come to mind upon hearing of a ‘three-quarter life crisis’, almost seven in 10 (67.1%) of us agree it is a good and healthy transition to go through as we reflect and re-evaluate our lives. Ultimately, our next chapter and narrative is in the palm of our hands.
Seniority means life experiences, so what can others learn from us?
Does ‘older’ really mean ‘wiser’? Well, many of us would agree that it does (72.5%). At the end of the day, we know we have life experiences that the younger generations can learn from and our wisdom should not go unnoticed, even when it comes to the issues and decisions that will impact our grandchildren and even our great grandchildren. The majority (95.2%) of us believe we should have an equal say on matters such as climate change and immigration policies.
Just because our predecessors lived a certain way doesn’t mean we have to follow in their footsteps. With life expectancy increasing and technology and healthcare advancing, there is more opportunity for us to experience the joys life has to offer and with the people we love most.
More research by Australian Seniors
29 Jan 2020