What can 20- and 30-somethings do today to prepare themselves for long lives?1 It has been well documented that many Millennials are struggling to get their adult lives started, held back by meager job opportunities and burdensome student debt. For example, according to the Stanford Center on Longevity’s Sightlines Project, roughly one in three households headed by individuals age 25 to 34 have incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level, which has potential negative consequences for their long-term well-being.2
Consider the following: A 30-year-old woman who doesn’t smoke and reports excellent health has a 61 percent chance of living to age 90 and a 22 percent chance of living to age 100, according to the Actuaries Longevity Illustrator.3 A 30-year-old man with similar characteristics has a 50 percent chance of living to age 90 and a 14 percent chance of living to age 100.
Compelling scientific evidence indicates that living long and well is most realistic for individuals who take certain actions throughout their lives in three domains: healthy living, social engagement and financial security. The goal is to take action now that not only enhances life today but also helps Millennials build resources that can nourish their lives for decades to come.
Because they’re young, Millennials have more time than older generations to take steps now that will improve the odds of living a long, healthy life. By contrast, many of those from earlier generations are already arriving at older age with inadequate retirement savings, health challenges, such as obesity, and a thin social support network, and it may be more difficult to overcome these types of obstacles later in life. Millennials, however, have time on their side to lay the groundwork today for a long, prosperous tomorrow.
The Sightlines Project provides a helpful checklist of action steps people can take now to improve their futures. For a complete checklist, see the “Action Plan” brief.4 Discussed below are issues specific to Millennials for each of the three domains listed above.