Centenarians – Living to 100 and beyond!

In this episode of Aging Insight, John and Lisa discuss issue that centenarians face and the implications of living decades past retirement… and even mention one sure-fire way to make it there!

Episode Transcript
John
Welcome to Aging Insight everybody, this is your host John Ross here live in the studio with Lisa Shoalmire, and it's a beautiful Saturday out there.

Lisa
Yeah, I'll be surprised if anybody's listening to us on the radio inside today.

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John
Maybe they got their headphones on, radio tuned, and they're out going for a jog in this beautiful weather...

John
And they're gonna get some physical fitness and some mental fitness, all at the same time.


Lisa
Yeah well.

John
Maybe not, I don't know. But we come up here, I'm out of the house this morning at about 08:00 o'clock, so I can get to Pittsburg, Texas by 09:00 o'clock, so I could speak to 250 Texas retired teachers, at their regional convention over there in Pittsburg this morning, and then hurry back here so I can get on the radio with Lisa, and we can bring you this information. The reason I get up and go out into the wilds of East Texas, to run my mouth and come back here to the big city to run my mouth, is because we believe in this information, we know its important to you out there. If you wanna stay independent, if you wanna avoid nursing home care and not be a burden on your friends and family, and protect and preserve your resources, you need information, we have that information, we want you to have that information.

Lisa
Well John, and so do our sponsors, They make sure we're here every Saturday and we can get this out to the community, and that includes Texarkana Funeral Home, Advantage Senior Care, Edgewood Manor, Dierksen Memorial Hospice, The Barnette Agency, Cranfill & Associates, Cowhorn Creek Estates, Curt Green and company, St. Micheal's Hospital, The Palm Senior Living Apartments in the Retreat at Kingwood, as well as Heritage Health and Rehab Reunion, and their new rehabilitation facilitates, and finally Red River Federal Credit Union.

John
Yeah, lots of folks that believe in this information enough to make sure we can bring you this program and that's super awesome of them. We believe in it, we like doing it.


Lisa
Sure
John
But it takes a team to make it all happen.


Lisa
It does, and what's great John is we do have a great team, over at Ross & Shoalmire Elder Law Attorneys. We've got attorney Danny Longview, Kristen Ishihara, We've got Kline Pillow here with us in our office, and we at any given day, all four of us will be out in different parts of the community speaking and education and of course meeting with folks and helping them out.

John
Yeah absolutely. Now, Lisa how may centenarian clients you think you've had? 


Lisa
I would say I've had, gosh probably about six to ten, centenarians.


John
Yeah. And of course your centenarians are anybody who's over 100.


Lisa
Right. Now I've had a ton of what I would call 'near centenarians'. People well into their 90s.

John
Yeah, I've had more people in their 90s than I could count. And like you've said, I bet I've probably had, oh maybe two dozen, a dozen, two dozen over 100, and I've had one super centenarian.


Lisa
I don't know if you said that right.

John
I didn't. Super centenarian. Super centenarian, which is anybody 110, or above.


Lisa
It's amazing, back when I started practicing law, you just didn't see that very often, and that was 20 years ago or so, but now I just don't blink an eye when the family comes in, or someone comes in and dad's 96, or we're talking about mom who's 101. It's not shocking anymore and...

John
Yeah. Yeah, rarely am I shocked. Now I will say I had a visit with one gentleman who was, it was right after his 106th birthday, and I got to sit down and visit with him for a little while and he was telling me about when he was on his honeymoon, and he had come across the sheriff in a northern California town, and got to talking to the sheriff and told the sheriff that he was on his honeymoon and the sheriff said "Well I got a little... "

Lisa
Little wedding gift for you.
John
Little wedding gift for you.
Lisa
A little something for the honeymoon.


John
And went down into the basement of the Sheriff's Department building, and cracked open a crate, and pulled out a bottle of...


Lisa
Hooch
John
Canadian hooch...


John
A little bottle of illegal, whiskey because this gentleman was getting married, and this was prohibition.

Lisa
The amazing part is, when you visit with folks like this, the amount of history that they lived through and...


John
Absolutely. And the funny thing about this also, is that I have talked to lots and lots of, say 60 year olds, or 70 year olds who have said "I've got no interest in living to a 100. I don't wanna get all frail and vulnerable, and weak, and dependent, and all of that." So I've had lots of 60 and 70 year olds say something like that. Alternatively, I've never had somebody in their 100s say, "I wish I'd have died sooner".


Lisa
Yeah that's exactly right.

Lisa
It's all a matter of your perspective, and everybody, of course, ages differently but that's really out of our hands in a lot of ways. We can do things like lifestyle, and eat right, not have bad habits, and things. But what goes on medically inside our body, a lot of times, that's just really out of our control.


John
Much of it is. For example, in all of our preparations for the program this morning, I was reading a particular article. And essentially the conclusion of this article was, if you want to live to be a 100, if you wanna live to be a 100, there's one almost sure-fire way to get there. I'm looking back at the article, 'cause without looking at it I'm gonna have a hard time pronouncing this. Let me see here...


Lisa
Yeah, there's lots of people that will give you lots of advice, on how to live to 100.


John
Yeah, and that's right. But there's the "Ashkenazi Jews".


Lisa
Ashkenazi Jews.


John
The Ashkenazi Jews, the average Ashkenazi Jew will live to be 95 or above. With a vast majority of them living to a 100 plus.

Lisa
Wow
John
So, statistically speaking, if you want to live to a 100, your best option is to be born an Ashkenazi Jew.

Lisa
Well, 'Gods chosen people', and all that, maybe that works.


John
Maybe so.
Lisa
So, yes. Certainly, genetics plays a big role. If you haven't guessed, our topic today is, 'Living to 100', and I don't have any special magic potion of vitamins, or anything. That's not what we're talking about today. We're talking about that some of you listening, will in fact live to be near or at 100 or above.


John
That's true. And some of you may want to. That may be something that's a goal of yours.


Lisa
So we thought we would kinda talk about it, because we do see people who have reached this marker, and so we wanna talk about some of the things that are particular to those clients. But it looks like we have a call. So, 'caller', welcome to 'Aging insight'.


Caller-1
Well he just mentioned Ashkenazi Jews. Where do they live? 


John
The Ashkenazi Jews live in Eastern Europe.

Caller-1
Yeah. I don't know if its the same group of people, but I remember reading an article many years ago that there's a mountainous area in Russia where it's common for people to live to a 100 or more. Over a 110.

John
Yeah I think this may actually be the same bunch, because of their longevity and because it's very unique do that one culture, and because of the religious structure, particular within the Jewish community, where you generally will only marry within your own culture there. The genetic material gets passed down and doesn't get...


Lisa
Diluted
John
Diluted, with other folks. And so they've done a number of studies. And so, yeah the folks you heard about, probably the same folks I just talked about.


Caller-1
Diluted or polluted. Those people are...
Lisa
Yeah you gotta be careful.


Caller-1
Yeah, many of 'em drink rum, on a daily basis.


John
Well, and that was one of the interesting things about the article that I was reading, was they said that this group of people, when they looked at their personal habits, that some of them were fat, some of them were skinny. Some of them smoked, some of them didn't. Some of them drank, some of them didn't. Some of them drink a lot of coffee, some of them drank no coffee. Their personal lifestyle was not different than the rest of the population, in what they ate, their body structure, their risk factors, all of those things seem to be roughly the same as, say your just, run of the mill person, you'd run into on the street.


Lisa
So who knows, but it's just one of those things that they do. They are studying our super-centenarians, and there seems to be some definitely a big genetic factor but with our modern medicine there's plenty of other supports, to get people to live well into their, almost their next century.


John
Yeah, that's right. Well thanks for calling.


Lisa
Well, and John my, I have a son and he was born in 1999.


John
That's true.

Lisa
And he tells me all the time, that he wants to live to the turn of the next century. So that he can say that he, "Lived in three different centuries".


John
Yeah, well that's a goal.

Lisa
And for him, "Hey they say now that, babies that are born now, have a... "


John
Significantly higher chance.

Lisa
Yes, chance. But I thought, "Well, he's already thought about it and he's just a teenager."


John
And of course, as the study with this particular group of individuals shows, there clearly seems to be some genetic components to all of this.


Lisa
Yes. So on that part, you're either, "You're in, you're out".


John
Yeah, "You're in, you're out". And the factors like, if your mom and dad lived to a 100 and then actually, one of the things they were talking about, was just the maternal side. That if you have a mother that lives to extreme old age, you're more likely to live to extreme old age, regardless of the age of your father passed away at.

Lisa
Yeah, and a couple of things on that. Number one, some of the studies have talked about, if your mother had you when she was quite young, you're likely to live closer to a hundred. Something about the quality of the eggs, or something that create the embryo. That's out of my league, I don't really know a lot about that, but that is something we certainly ask, any person we're visiting with about this matters is, "Tell us about your family history? How old were your parents when they passed away?" Aunts, uncles, and when I talk to a family, and there's a significant longevity, then I'm certainly going to incorporate that into any plans and recommendations, and factors for the client or the person sitting in front of me.


John
Yeah. In fact, a financial advisor friend, Devin Carroll, who's been on the radio before, does a podcast and has a blog that he talks about financial issues occasionally out there. And he's been on the show before, but I know just from talking to him, when he's sitting down doing a financial plan for somebody, most of the literature says, "Oh well, the average life expectancy for a male in the United States is 76.3 years," or something like that. But he basis everything off of 90.

Lisa
Yes
John
And people are, "What? I'm not gonna live to 90." He's, "Look, that's... "


Lisa
Nobody knows.

John
Nobody knows, but...

Lisa
The plan
John
You don't wanna run out planning on getting to only 76, and you still have 15 more years.


Lisa
And still be here, yeah. Let's take our break, but we're gonna go ahead and talk about some things on the financial side and all, that you might wanna think about as you look at longevity as a possibility for your future. So stick around.


Lisa
Well, welcome back everyone, to Aging Insight, I'm Lisa Shoalmire here in the studio with John Ross. And today, we're talking about living to 100, or the possibility of that, and John, statistically speaking, we've just had this exponential increase, in people that are living to near and up to 100 and nowadays, John, the weatherman, on one of those morning news shows, he used to always give a shout-out to anyone that was turning 100. And now they have so many submissions, that he just, he hand picks a few.

John
Right, they can only pick a few.

Lisa
Right. So...
John
Whereas they used to put everyone they got on the show.

Lisa
But if you think about it, if you retire at 65 and you live to a 100, that is another 35 years. And many folks may have worked 35 years and retired...


John
Right.
Lisa
And so you have the same time frame ahead of you so, gosh, it's something to think about. But John, some great things about living to 100. Gosh, you get to be the family matriarch, patriarch. Your kids, your grand kids, your great grand children.

John
Well that's certainly right. As with any stretch of time, the longer that stretch of time, the more you're gonna experience during that stretch. And again, from having conversations with these folks, you can hear the pride and the joy that they take in seeing multiple generations of individuals around them. My grandfather on my mother's side, Marvin, tough guy.


John
Tough guy. We're talking oil worker, Oklahoma, World War II...


Lisa
Oklahoma dirt farmer.


John
World War II vet, cattle rancher, hard as nails, skin like leather, and the attitude like steel. And yet one of my memories of him is, my oldest daughter was recently, she was maybe one-years-old, maybe, and watching the softening, in fact probably the softest I ever saw his face, as he held that one-year-old...


Lisa
Great grandchild, yeah.


John
Great grandchild, the little girl. And especially in a family with, most of the grandkids were boys. Me and a couple of cousins that were all boys, but probably, like I said, the softest I've ever seen him. So you can see a joy, and you hear the joy in talking to these folks as they experience some of those things.


Lisa
Yeah. Sometimes we're, "Focus on the doom and gloom," but what we wanna do is, focus on how to maximize that joy and that longevity. But one of the ways that you're gonna maximize that is by not being so stressed...

Lisa
About those years in retirement.


John
Well that's certainly, true and. Visited with a woman on Friday, who's in her late mid to late 80s. And she has a lot of stress related to her finances, because she's living longer than maybe she expected, and is still relatively healthy and so she's looking down the road even further, and saying, "Geez, the amount of money that I have, it's not a lot now that I'm... "


Lisa
Yeah, now that I'm thinking about trucking on...


Lisa
Year after year.


John
Right. And especially now as a widow, and lost the dual income that came with two Social Security checks, and things like that. And yet, I was able to point out to her that based on her expenses, and even her expenses that have grown now that she's in an assisted living environment, and things like that. And she's like, "But look how it's going down every month." And "It's going down, what am I gonna do?" And I said, "Look, but at the rate it's going down, you wouldn't run out for 23 years. You're 85...


Lisa
Yeah. The chances of that are...


John
While I do expect you to have some more longevity in here, the fact is it's not unlimited...


John
Longevity.
Lisa
No we're not to that point, so...


John
But the point was, "Let that stress go. Enjoy these times and stop worrying about that, finances, because you've, look at it realistically, and look at what those expenses are." And that helps some, and that helps get rid of some of that stress.


Lisa
Well, and so when we come back after our news break, we're gonna talk about some of the financial decisions that you can make at retirement, near retirement, that will impact that longevity factor on the financial side, so that way, maybe some things you can do now to reduce that stress of the potential 100 years.

John
Yeah. Just a little bit of advise along the way can help. And again, whether you're that soon to be retiree, or maybe you're already well into this deal. Probably a few tidbits of information that we can throw at you that might help, so stick around we'll be right back.


John
Welcome back to Aging Insight everybody. This is your host John Ross, here in the studio, with Lisa Shoalmire on this bright, sunny, and unseasonably warm for January kinda day. Lisa and I are both in our athletic ware, maybe we go for a little run or something this afternoon and in...


Lisa
Working on living to a 100.


John
Working on living to a 100 maybe, who knows? But that's our topic today, is how do you get there? There's obviously a genetic component in all of this, that you can't do anything about. Interesting point before we kinda get into it, but one of the articles I was reading was talking about how aging is not, in and of itself, a disease. Or at least it's not classified as a disease. Whereas things like heart disease, diabetes, killers that are out there, those are diseases, but aging is not a disease. And yet, a person 75 compared to a person 25 is 2,000 times more likely to get heart disease.

Lisa
Right.
John
So, there's obviously a correlation.


Lisa
Yes.
John
Between the two. The point of the article was, and this is more of a scientific journal, it was talking about gene manipulation therapies, and things like that. But they where talking about, if you're talking about living to old age, it doesn't help to focus on disease prevention. Because if you spent all of your time worried about whether or not you're gonna get heart disease at 65, you might have prevented that, just to get Alzheimer's at 67.

Lisa
Sure. We all die of something.

John
Right. So focusing on disease prevention, in and of itself, is kinda pointless, whereas if you think about aging as the root cause of all of these diseases. That you actually have a chance of slowing the aging process. And then, if you slow the aging process, you're going to slow the rate at which these diseases become more prevalent. Essentially, how do you slow that aging process, and while you may not think of it, there's a financial component to all of this, or at least, the statistics seem to bare that out.


Lisa
Sure. The persons with lower financial resources and all, they tend to show that those disease processes seem to affect that group lower, and you just wonder, there's lifestyle choices and access to medical care, and things that come with financial stability, planning. But we all have some basic tools. Thankfully, we do have a Medicare system for our seniors, 65 and older. Just really as a young retiree, really looking into how to maximize that system for you, and to be your own advocate and to educate yourself about how that system works. So many seniors just assume that if they need care, the doctor's gonna order the test, the treatment will be paid for by Medicare. And hopefully that is true, but you do have to learn to use the tools that you have. And we all, 65 and over, we're gonna have Medicare so get yourself educated. That's a financial tool.


John
Sure. The persons with lower financial resources and all, they tend to show that those disease processes seem to affect that group lower, and you just wonder, there's lifestyle choices and access to medical care, and things that come with financial stability, planning. But we all have some basic tools. Thankfully, we do have a Medicare system for our seniors, 65 and older. Just really as a young retiree, really looking into how to maximize that system for you, and to be your own advocate and to educate yourself about how that system works. So many seniors just assume that if they need care, the doctor's gonna order the test, the treatment will be paid for by Medicare. And hopefully that is true, but you do have to learn to use the tools that you have. And we all, 65 and over, we're gonna have Medicare so get yourself educated. That's a financial tool.


Lisa
Right. So you gotta get educated. One of the things that most people choose to get a Medigap coverage. Some people don't. And those people that don't, they may have saved a little premium money, but they are stressed out when it comes to paying those co-payees in out of pocket portions.


John
Right. Or they may have, at one point in time, opted for, instead of going with the traditional, Medicare Medigap coverage, they may have converted to a Medicare Advantage Plan. Maybe it was more cost-effective, or maybe it offered more services. But of course, when you take something, at least in this concept, the whole concept of the Medicare Advantage Plan, is that a private company can do it more efficiently and thus, more cost-effective, than a big governmental organization like Medicare. And while that is true, cost savings have to come from somewhere. And it's actually easier for those cost savings to come at the detriment of the patient, than it is to...

Lisa
The administrative efficiencies.


John
Yes. Than to deal with hospitals, and things like that. So oftentimes, when you're a younger retiree, having a Medicare Advantage Plan may actually save you money. But there is a point in time where you're actually not gonna want that Medicare Advantage Plan because they're going to limit the things like rehab services, that will get you back to health to where you can continue to live independently.


Lisa
Right. So one tip there really is, if you're already retired, if you're already a Medicare patient, seriously, spend the time to get educated about it. And if you are on a Medicare Advantage Plan right now, as a younger retiree, put that savings back. Make that money that you're saving work for you if you can. And also, just because you've chosen Medicare Advantage this year, you can always switch it back to traditional Medicare at the next enrollment period. There's a lot of financial choices we make that we really can't undo, once they're done. But the Medicare choice is not one of those. We can switch back and forth.


John
Speaking of choices that you make, that you can't unmake, Lisa's reading an article on this subject, and one of the brilliant pieces of advice to a new retiree, in order for financial security, was, "Retire from some place that offers a pension."

Lisa
Which I thought was hilarious. You have this article that says, 'How to financially prepare to live to be 100', and one of the pieces of advice was work for a company with a traditional pension plan, that is a defined benefit plan that stays in place and pays you until the day you die.


John
Right. Which might be great advice to a 20-year old.


Lisa
Right.
Lisa
But at this point, unless you are near retired and you are willing to go to work and get all for another 30 years... That advice, that's a waste of ink.


John
It is. Now, on the other hand, if you're somebody who's in the, say, 55 range and you're looking down the road, the idea of retiring at 65 for many people these days is kinda bunk anyway. At 55, you very well may have a good 20 years worth of retirement. And of course, where are you gonna find a company that offers a pension, Lisa? 

Lisa
It's typically going to be a government employer, so...


John
That's right. And that's where you see a lot of the job market moving is into the government sector. And so I have seen a lot of folks that will move from the private sector into the public sector, mid to late career. For example, if you've been a banker, in fact I know a banker, and although he's a banker, he's also a full-time professor, teaching finance. And at some point in time, he could maybe do that full-time, and the banking part-time, or not at all, and he will have done it long enough that he will be able to pull a government pension as a retired professor.

Lisa
That's right. And that's where you see a lot of the job market moving is into the government sector. And so I have seen a lot of folks that will move from the private sector into the public sector, mid to late career. For example, if you've been a banker, in fact I know a banker, and although he's a banker, he's also a full-time professor, teaching finance. And at some point in time, he could maybe do that full-time, and the banking part-time, or not at all, and he will have done it long enough that he will be able to pull a government pension as a retired professor.

John
It's a not great advice if you're 65 or 70...


John
And you're at the end of your work time, but it's still something that's out there. And of course, on the that same note, yes, you're gonna have Social Security, but you can't rely on Social Security alone, as a general rule, to get you through. It's gonna be around for the people that are retiring now that...


Lisa
It's going to be there.


John
It's going to be there. Whether it's there for me or not...


John
Is a different story. But for y'all, it's going to be there, but, it's just not gonna be enough.


Lisa
Right. Well John, let's take our last break, and we'll come back and talk a couple of other things that financially, that you need to consider as you prepare for some longevity.


Lisa
Welcome back everyone, to the final segment of today's Aging Insight program. I'm Lisa Shoalmire, here in the studio with John Ross. And today, we're talking about living to 100 and particularly, some of the financial issues that can come with that. And, John, gosh we've got about two or three things to get in this last segment. But one important thing that you need to do as a near retiree, or if you're already in retirement, is to look to see if your savings, is in some manner keeping up with inflation.


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