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longevity.Stanford.edu

Kristine Hayes  |  April 5, 2018

AS A FORMER journalism major, I’m a sucker for a good headline. I understand how difficult it is to grab a reader’s attention in ten words or less. So, when I came across a headline proclaiming that a group of Stanford researchers had determined the “best” retirement strategy, I admit I was intrigued. I clicked on a link to the study—and found not only a useful retirement planning system, but also a portal into the Stanford Center on Longevity.

The Stanford Center consists of more than 150 faculty members, students and staff who conduct research and gather data on aging-related topics. Packed with original studies, research-based statistics and historical data, the website is a tremendous resource for anyone curious about how aging in America has changed over the past few decades and where it’s likely headed in the future.

The Center focuses much of its research on the interaction between physical fitness, mental wellbeing and financial health. The Mentally Sharp section of the site features research on topics such as cognitive health and decision making. The Physically Fit portion focuses on subjects related to aging in place and increasing physical activity in older adults. In the Financially Secure section, readers can explore information about fraud prevention, retirement planning and the future of aging.

The Center also explores several multi-generational issues. In The Milestones Project, Stanford researchers investigate why members of the millennial generation tend to delay significant life events, compared to older generations. The overall economic impact of delaying marriage and homeownership has yet to be determined, though researchers have also noted a trend toward millennials faring better at retirement planning than their older counterparts.

While the website highlights several positive trends—improvements in health care and nutrition have greatly extended life expectancy over the past several decades—the forecast isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. With increasing lifespans comes the probability of having to fund a longer retirement. This, in turn, often means having to spend more years in the workforce to accumulate the necessary retirement portfolio.

Research by the Stanford Center on Longevity indicates a clear connection between financial security and wellbeing, both physical and cognitive. By exploring ways to increase the health and overall wellbeing of older adults, the Center’s researchers ultimately hope to help improve the fiscal soundness of future generations.

Headline worthy? Absolutely.

Kristine Hayes is a departmental manager at a small, liberal arts college in Portland, Oregon. Her previous blogs include Independence Day, Case Closed and My Younger Self.

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