Live Long & Prosper: Part 1 - Skip to content

Live Long & Prosper: Part 1


How Will We Fill The Bonus Years?

“I’m grateful for every age I’m blessed to become.” 

~ Oprah Winfrey, from What I Know For Sure

reverse mortgage newsAs we’ve discussed previously, while dying is feared in Western culture, there is often more trepidation about the aging process itself. A group of Silicon Valley billionaires, all years from collecting Social Security, is working to change both perceptions by exploring the outer limits of life extension. The tech titans are putting their money where their minds are, supporting leading-edge research into expanding how long and how well we might live.

We’ve explored how we might be able to turn back the hands of time by turning on our telomerase gene, but the founders of such game-changing digital empires as Google, PayPal, eBay and Facebook are funding research that goes further, “hunting for the secrets of living organisms with insanely long lives; engineering microscopic nanobots that can fix your body from the inside out; figuring out how to reprogram the DNA you were born with; and exploring ways to digitize your brain based on the theory that your mind could live long after your body expires,” driven by a certitude that “rebuilding, regenerating, and reprogramming patients’ organs, limbs, cells, and DNA will enable people to live longer and better.”

There’s a lot we can do in our own low-tech lives, however, as centenarians demonstrate. Diets ranging from protein and calcium rich to vegan with fish lengthen lives at ten times the national average, according to a researcher who studied those 100 years old in “Blue Zones” around the world. It seems that to a great extent, when it comes to aging, you are what you eat.

How to Live Longer and Better

Beyond the ethical issues of extending life by tinkering with nature, the larger question remains: what will we do with all those extra years, assuming we’re healthy enough to enjoy them?

Just living longer isn’t enough, says encore career expert Marc Freedman, author of The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife. “Aside from the mind-boggling prospect of saving for 50- or 75-year retirements, how do we make these new chapters both fulfilling for individuals and sustainable for society?

“Life extension without social innovation is a recipe for dystopian disaster — what one critic characterizes as ‘the coming death shortage,’ invoking images not only of endless (and unaffordable) retirements but of a society loaded down by a population explosion of the idle old.”

Reverse mortgage may be one viable answer to the financial requirements of an extended retirement. Life enrichment and retooling for the next life stage should be its cornerstone, says Freedman. Someone turning 65 today can expect to live an additional 19.3 years, and in a recent Centers for Disease Control study, nearly 70% said they want to continue working in order to stay active and involved. They also say it’s “very important” to them to leave the world a better place.

One of the best opportunities longer lives offer is the chance to follow your dreams, cited as the number one regret of the dying. Using a HECM to follow your heart, travel, retool to do work you love or simply spend more time with friends and family minus money worries may not banish our final bow forever, but it can make these extra years a bonus instead of a burden, and that’s what positive aging is all about.

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Editor in Chief:
As a prominent commentator and Editor in Chief at, Shannon Hicks has played a pivotal role in reshaping the conversation around reverse mortgages. His unique perspectives and deep understanding of the industry have not only educated countless readers but has also contributed to introducing practical strategies utilizing housing wealth with a reverse mortgage.
Shannon’s journey into the world of reverse mortgages began in 2002 as an originator and his prior work in the financial services industry. Shannon has been covering reverse mortgage news stories since 2008 when he launched the podcast HECMWorld Weekly. Later, in 2010 he began producing the weekly video series The Industry Leader Update and Friday’s Food for Thought.
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  1. There is an old adage that warns even if we can do something, should we? But rarely has that warning been heeded. Look at the machine gun or nuclear weapons. We could go on and on.

    Imagine living in Russia with a vigorous 120 year old Stalin or in China with a vigorous 130 year old Mao. Neither of those images warm me up. Would FDR be wrapping up his 21st term in office at age 134? How about Chief Justice Roberts serving 70 more years on the Supreme Court? None of these thoughts are truly transforming. We need change so somehow that would have to be delivered along with longer lives or future greatness will be stifled.

    Yes, there are also questions for the average Joe about a sound mind, mobility, and other concerns about extending our later years but there are also questions about the difficulties of change and financial ruin to subsequent generations. When will seniors be required to stop driving or be required to retire? Will countries with younger populations eventually militarily run over those with much older ones.

    Greatly extending life can be a good thing or can be a recipe for disaster. I have a number of relatives who died before 1970 but lived well into their late 80s and 90s and they had a meat and potato diet. So It is not so clear that eating fish would have changed much for them since so many of their peers who had “healthy diets” died so much younger. Several of those who died, I knew well and they asked me why they had to outlive those they had been closest to.

    Many questions need to be resolved before this change comes but come it will whether we are prepared or not.

    Ready or not….

    • Critic,

      Well said. I feel that length of life is not as important as quality; some people who’ve contributed much to humanity have died at a relatively young age, while others did not begin to develop and deliver their gifts until they were well into their elder years.

      • Amara,

        I worked with two aged bloomers. One was in his early nineties when he discovered a formula for growing plants that even Ortho researchers investigated and told their management to buy the patent on the formula otherwise their products would be outsold in a matter of a few years.

        Then there was a practical scientist who went into a field where new ideas died decades. He has not only revolutionized that industry starting in his late 60s but today in retail his product also dominates what was once thought to have been a saturated market. In his mid eighties, he hopes to see it dominate all sectors as it now begins to erode the dominance of others in those other sectors.

        • Impressive! For people like this, life extension makes sense 🙂

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