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Date: November 7, 2023     Updated: December 20, 2023

Life expectancy for the first world population is expected to be much longer. Soon, people in developed countries can live up to 120 years

With medical advances, improved health maintenance, more nutritious food and consciousness about health, human beings are living a longer life. People in their 90s and beyond are very common now. Very soon, life expectancy will be 120 years for an average person in the developed world.

But the most important question is - can we live meaningfully and decently for that long, or be just surviving with a lot of difficulties and hardship.

Leading a meaningful, decent life and just existing are two different things. We are not even talking about enjoying life. At least we should not be suffering, hating and regretting every minute of our existence. We are not just talking about disability-free living. We are talking about worry free, decent independent living with dignity. We need to be able to take care of our basic essentials of life - shelter, food, utilities and transportation without worry. And we need to be able to perform our basic daily chores without having to count on, or beg for, the mercy of others daily.

If it is just surviving for the purpose of surviving, there is no reason to continue a journey of prolonged agony. A lot of people choose to end their lives artificially and prematurely. Many people in their 90s, abandoned by their families, jumped to their death out of frustration, when they find that life becomes a torture, a curse and a punishment.

Assisted suicide or euthanasia is not allowed in most jurisdictions. Even in countries where it is permitted, only the terminally ill are given such choice. Not too many people can afford to go to Dignitas. Ending suffering is not an easy task. No one wants to have to make such a dreadful decision.

Longevity is enjoyable until it is not. It is important not to fall into the trap of regrettable living at the end. As they said, 'the best you can hope for, is to die in your sleep'. But not everybody is so lucky, and jumping from a building to end a life is a horrible way to do it.

When things look smooth, we tend to be overly optimistic and naive about life, when in fact a setback is always lurking around the dark corner. It is pertinent to be prepared when we have the time and the means to do so, especially when we are young, capable and energetic. Self-sufficiency is the name of the game.

We must prepare when we are young and have the time and opportunity to do so. If we wait until being too weak and out of luck to do it, then it is too late

When a person ages, physical, emotional, cognitive, memory, and reasoning capability will decline. No one can avoid that. And we don't have much choice and control over it anyway. We are born with the body we have. But we can avoid doing unnecessary damage to our body and try our best to slow down the process. Avoiding dementia and a general decline in cognitive and physical abilities is the most important duty we have. Although we only have limited ability to do that, it is better to work on it rather than ignore it. We owe it to ourselves to perform this basic duty of life.

The most important thing is to make sure we are physically and cognitively capable to manage things ourselves in our old age

This is the number one issue. If we suffer from physical, mental or cognitive deficiency, then everything else is moot, and we are condemned to be dependent on others. [Watch out for your health and warning signs]

After mental and physical health, we can talk about financial well-being and how to afford the basic necessities in our sunset years

As a person ages, the ability to generate income also diminished. Being financially prepared is generally within our control if we are lucky to have a reasonable background and born in a reasonable environment.

Gen Z-ers have a raw deal. This is the generation who owns nothing. During the baby boomers' time, getting a decent job and take out a loan to buy a starter home is relatively easy and convenient. Nowadays, most safe or cushy jobs are gone. They are replaced by automation, especially those clerical types such as customer services, call centers and support functions. Even minimum wage jobs like fast food ordering functions are gone.

All that left are gig-economy jobs such as food delivery, warehouse attendant or Uber driving. Perhaps being a professional social media influencer or online troll is still available, if those jobs have not already been taken over by AI.

Pensions are a thing of the past. They're all but disappeared. Most boomers, and some lucky millennials, may still have it. Gen Z-ers probably have never heard of it. All those good things which baby boomers and millennials take for granted are gone. [FREE Lunches are no more]

The only available strategy for Gen Z-ers is to be nice to their boomer grandparents and millennial parents, uncles and aunts. When they die, they will leave the properties behind. Otherwise, they will just give to someone else they like better or charities. As a matter of fact, this is the only advantage Gen Z-ers have over the previous generations, as few boomers inherited properties from their parents. [Manage your finances]

Beyond health and financial issues, the next item is emotional well-being

After committing the whole life for the well-being of the family, loneliness and empty nest feeling during the last part of life is a difficult experience to endure. Don't let what you see on TV or social media bother you. They are mostly lies and exaggeration. Don't be jealous of others' good fortune, and live according to one's own schedule and preference.

Control one's mind and avoid comparison with others is one skill we must learn to master. Feeling unfortunate, lonely and self-pity is a vicious cycle that feeds on itself. Keeping up with the Jones-es is a source of unnecessary pressure. [Manage your Emotional Well Being]

Finally, we need to find a place where we can live a worry-free life comfortably without excessive burden

When we are not bound by our jobs and the constraint of having to make a living, we have the freedom to find a place where we can live worry-free. A place where we don't need to fret about the car won't start in the morning, oil changes, house heating and cooling, roof cleaning and all kinds of insurance such as auto, home, and health insurance. A place with few government intrusion and reporting requirements. Ideally, it should be a place where your friends are, or at least a place where you can easily make new friends. [Find a Worry-Free Place to live]

In summary, we owe it to ourselves to prepare for and manage the final years. It is not easy, but we cannot count on others

Life is never supposed to easy anyway, except for those who are born with a silver spoon. People living longer does not mean life is easier. For the majority, it just means more challenges. If a person is not prepared, it would mean more grievances, misery, loneliness and sadness.

We can only do as much planning as we can, but if disasters struck, or a war broke out, there is nothing we can do. We just do our part and hope for the best.

All these talks of preparation and planning are only meaningful to those who can afford it

If you are already struggling, and living from day to day or from hand to mouth, then it is not possible to do any planning. For those who are lucky and can afford to, we owe it to ourselves to prepare for the final years.

Basic steps to maintain physical well-being

Needless to say, we need to maintain good health and we must start early. Once our health is gone, it is forever. There is no second chance in life as far as health is concerned. This is the most important item. Without good health, everything else is in vain. These are the simple and necessary things we are advised to pay attention to:

  • Control our body weight. Visceral fat is the mother of all health problems. Obesity is the cause of many issues. Eating slowly will help to avoid overconsumption. It will give our body time to feel full. In fact, after eating, a person actually feels more hungry because the body is ready for more. Take a break; do something else; very soon, the hunger feeling will go away. Getting rid of visceral and subcutaneous fat removed a lot of health problems.

  • Having enough sleep is the next most important step in health maintenance. Sleep deprivation could lead to many problems. Prolonged melatonin use may lead to tolerance. Long-term supplementation is not a good tactic. Watch out for unexplainable bruises, especially when it comes with other warning signs.

  • Avoid putting excessive chemicals such as colour or dye on our face, skin or hair. We don't know the long-term effects. Anything considered safe today may turn out to be cancer-causing a few years later. Be conservative, stringent and moderate with those chemicals. Wearing make-up every day makes it a routine process. When we are used to it, there is no excitement. And when we skip it for one day, we will feel like missing something. But if we only do it once in a while, that generates a thrill. Protect our skin from midday direct sunshine to avoid possible skin cancer.

  • Protect our eye. Avoid straining our eyes under direct sun exposure. Our eyes will get old anyway and need fixing. But we can delay the onset as much as possible. Avoid over using with too much video or screen time.

  • Gently brush and floss our teeth every day.

  • Protect our knees and joints. Avoid overuse, stress and overdoing at the gym. Injury from heavy lifting and repetitive movements can cause irreparable attrition. Unfortunate accidental physical damage to the body such as our spinal cord could result in lifelong disabilities.

    Correct posture when carrying anything is of prime importance. Avoid sudden, violent jerking. Take it easy when changing posture from standing to squatting and vice versa. Once our joints are damaged, we will have mobility problems forever. Any artificial remedy is prone to problems. When our mobility is limited, many other physical and pyschological problems will follow.

  • Avoid experimenting with drugs, smoking or binge-drinking. Let someone else do it if they are so gunk ho about it. Drinking moderately and occasionally is acceptable.

  • Observe our urine everything morning. Watch out for consistent abnormal colour, bubbles, murkiness or smell. Pay attention to the colour and texture of our stool. Constipation is usually caused by consuming not enough fruit, vegetable and water. Try to do it as soon as feasible when having the urge to pass stool. Holding in poop consistently could be harmful. Pushing too hard will cause hernia and other issues.

Some common sense steps to maintain financial well-being

  • Pay off credit card monthly. Don't accumulate debt. If we cannot afford it with discretionary cash. Don't buy. Use the card only to give ourselves a good credit score. Buy now, pay later is the most dangerous financial trap.

  • Plan and budget ahead. Set aside a certain amount for saving. Avoid impulse spending and buying. This will help to declutter our living space and also our life. Unnecessary purchases only create more maintenance and tidying work.

  • Invest in stocks with out spare money. Stay with the 'blue chip' non-volatile stocks. To avoid fluctuation and worry, go for food, utilities or perhaps medical companies. Let them sit there and collect dividends. Avoid the hype of those get rich quick stocks. It will save a lot of headache and allow us to concentrate on our work and life.

  • Be nice to our grandparents and parents,uncles and aunts so they will let you inherit their assets. Don't let the bank of gran-and-granddad and the bank of mum-and-dad shut you out. This is probably the easiest and most logical thing to do.

  • Buy your own house if at all possible. Even perhaps a trailer or RV with a building lot is better than nothing, as everything is unaffordable nowadays. Inflation is only going to get worse.

  • Gen Z-ers all over the world are suffering from the same curse. The good and easy times are gone forever. Instead of moaning about it, do something to remedy the situation for yourself. Don't count on the government to help. There is no free lunch anymore.

Steps to maintain mental health - ward off social isolation, loneliness, boredom and listlessness

Socio-economic status and health-risk are closely related. Risky behaviour is associated with loneliness and destitution. If a person is financially secure, the chance of maintaining mental well-being is vastly improved.

When a person have nothing to do the whole day, life will be too boring and the person will be sitting there waiting to die or susceptible to indulge in risky behavior.

  • Find something to do daily, to avoid burnout and lack of fulfillment. Create some hobby and engage in handicraft projects that will last for the lifetime. Maintain a YouTube channel about our hobbies. Become a plant horticulturist, or raising a kitten may help.

    Do some simple things like wood work at home. Making models, wood carving and painting are good pastimes. Learning how to cook could be helpful too.

    Write a blog and learn computer programming. Read out loud to exercise brain, mouth, lung and eye coordination.

  • Avoid being a people pleaser. If something we cannot do, that's something we cannot do. Don't put excessive pressure on ourselves.

  • Be smart and have individual thinking. Don't get confused, fooled or bewildered by online messages and comments in social media. A lot of people are in fact hired to create those messages and comments by various interested parties. Many of them are repetitive, misleading and wrong. We are much better off doing our own research and study rather than counting on those misinformations.

  • Stay in touch with your friends and form a mutual support group. Find someone you can share thoughts and feelings with. Doing volunteer work is one way to make new friends.

    Have a part-time job at McDonald's or Walmart is OK as long as you don't care about the money.

Find a worry-free place to live the final years of life

When you are no longer worry about making a living, you have the freedom to find a less stressful place to live. For the time being, at least, Hong Kong and Singapore are among those places. They both share some common characteristics.

  • They both are geographically compact, convenient, and metropolitan in outlook. For a non-native foreigner, it is easy to cultivate and make new friends. Both cities are xenophilic and friendly to foreign people and have easy access to everything. Buying anything or shopping is easy. Hong Kong ranks first for enabling environments and independent living with the least stress. There is no need to drive, and public transportation is well organized. Driving and maintaining a car is a big hassle, especially when you don't have the mood and energy to do so.

  • Both places are safe, with low crime rate, relatively clean air and water, and no gun violence.

    There is no threat of flooding, earthquake or other natural calamities to worry about. Fire happened once in a while, but damage is usually limited and non-extensive.

    Both places are known for low tax and minimum government regulation in people's private life. There is no unnecessary and excessive financial reporting, which are the cause of stress for people in their old age. Living there is basically stress-free.

  • Both are quite free and liberal, despite what the media said. As long as you are not advocating revolution or other crazy things, nobody will bother you. You can criticize government policies, and talk about LGBTQ and other alphabetical things any way you want.

  • Houses and apartments are expensive. Hong Kong apartment prices have come down substantially since the covid lock-down. It is expected to depreciate further for at least a few more years. When it is low enough and affordable, it makes sense to buy an apartment there and rent it out. The rent will cover the mortgage payments. When you are about to retire, you can live there rent-free.

  • Medical care is affordable. There is no worry about life and health insurance. Public health care, for those eligible, is reasonably good and readily available. Private care is fine as long as you can afford it. Although some people choose to have medical insurance to feel comfortable, disastrous medical expense is one of the last issues in people's minds.

    Finding a doctor to have a consultation is easy and convenient. Walk-in visit without appointment is a common practice.

  • In Hong Kong, there is an additional bonus. One can take a 20-minute ride to Shenzhen and be submerged in a totally different, exciting and affordable world. Food and services are a lot cheaper there. However, one of Hong Kong's problems is that people running the place act like living on borrowed time, waiting to retire with a big fat package and emigrate to the UK. The bureaucracy is getting bloated and inefficient by the day.

    Singapore's additional advantage is that there is no worry about a possible conflict between the US and China. It will just stay prosperous with no dark cloud looming over the horizon as long as the government can juggle and maneuver adeptly between the two superpowers. So far, it has proven to be adept at this practice.

Good luck to all those who will be living to 120 years old

Living longer does not mean life is easier. If a person is not prepared, it would mean more grievances, challenges, misery and loneliness. We owe it to ourselves to do it when we can manage.

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