continuous learning mid-life planning quality of life

Retiring Retirement: Longevity Mindset

Serena Williams, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, recently announced her retirement from professional tennis. Interestingly, the winner of 23 Grand Slam tennis tournaments, had this to say,

“I have never liked the word retirement. It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me. I’ve been thinking of this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people. Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is evolution. I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me. A few years ago, I quietly started Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm. Soon after that, I started a family. I want to grow that family.”

Source: Vogue

The average age of retirement for professional tennis players is around 30 years, and lesser for women, and this makes transition into the non-playing world that much more vital. For example, Serena is 40 years old and has dedicated a large part of her life (and time) to the sport, and in the process, achieved tremendous financial success. Agreed that not everybody is Serena and has the resources at her disposal, however, it sparks an interesting question about how individuals perceive themselves and plan for their future.

Research globally indicates that there is a tendency for people to underestimate their longevity, and thus they are likely to pay little attention to different life stage transitions. Although India does’t face the same demographic transitions like much of the US, Europe and some parts of Asia, the absolute number of people entering their third (50+) and fourth stages of life (75+) is on the rise. This requires us to think beyond the traditional binaries of work and retirement, and evolve a much more nuanced understanding of longevity – a longevity mindset.

A longevity mindset is one where you decide and wholeheartedly believe that longevity is normal and attainable. With a longevity mindset, aging is abnormal, and longevity is what’s considered healthy. This mindset permanently benefits the way you live, think, and act.

How to foster a longevity mindset

Staying optimistic and planning for life stages is one way to evolve this mindset into a healthy living code. An earlier article on 100 Year Life highlights some of the research and work around this aspect.

If you want to break #AgeBias and foster intergenerational diversity, sign up for the GenConnect initiative now!

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Longevity Dividend & The 100 Year Life

Designing for a 100 Year Life.

People around the world are living longer thanks to advances in medicine, public health and other factors.

  • Is living longer a gift or a curse?
  • What happens if more of us live till 100 years?
  • What does research around the world say?
  • How are countries, societies, businesses and individuals adapting to it?
  • How can you redesign your life for a 100 year life?

In this essay, which is broken into sections, I look at India’s longevity dividend (does it exist?) and highlight research around a 100 year life.

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The Silver Angels newsletter brings you news, stories and trends from the silver economy in India, in a short, easy-to-read format. Businesses, brands, investors, startups, researchers and analysts following this space are likely to find it interesting.

🧠 Thoughts, feedback or comments? Want to connect?

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Silver Angels is an independent platform tracking the Silver Economy in India with focus on ageing journeys, longevity impacts and seniorcare. You can find more information on

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Retirement Planning vs Longevity Planning

With longer lifespans, just a retirement plan may not be enough anymore.

Retirement planning is a healthy exercise to undertake as it helps ensure financial security and offers peace of mind around later life. However, with increasing lifespans, shifting the lens from retirement to longevity planning spread across different life stages may lead to better quality of life.

In this essay, I have identified 9 parameters that can help think through longevity plans in the context of retirement planning.

📫 Silver Angels Newsletter

The Silver Angels newsletter brings you news, stories and trends from the silver economy in India, in a short, easy-to-read format. Businesses, brands, investors, startups, researchers and analysts following this space are likely to find it interesting.

🧠 Thoughts, feedback or comments? Want to connect?

Feel free to reach out at any time via email:

Silver Angels is an independent platform tracking the Silver Economy in India with focus on ageing journeys, longevity impacts and seniorcare. You can find more information on

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Longevity impact on retirement planning

Thanks for reading! In this newsletter, I try to breakdown longevity impact on planning, and how decisions you make today can have a compounding return on your future life.

Now, let’s dive in!

Retirement planning, and missing pieces

Retirement plans put a smile on everybody’s face. For many that can afford to stop working, it is the culmination of family and work responsibilities, and the start of a new journey. It may result from the natural end of a career (60 to 65 years) or through a planned event (early retirement, etc). Each individual and family plans differently and have a set of different priorities. Some people look forward to it with a fresh set of plans, others intend to spend more time with their family and friends, and some others prefer to take it easy. Without going into nuances, Aegon’s 2015 Retirement Readiness survey points to Indians having a very positive perception of retirement, and a majority are comfortable with their retirement plans.

Over the last decade, one can notice the professionalisation of retirement planning, thanks to more financial products and services, and rise in SEBI registered financial advisers, and this has allowed for investments in market-linked returns adjusted to risk profiles. These options through conventional institutions and new digital platforms, aided by rise in economic opportunities, could be reasons for such optimism among the young. Traditional media and aggregator platforms continue to cover this space through various articles, insights and tools.

A large proportion of older adults in India continue to co-habit homes with their families, and manage their expenses with returns from fixed instruments (FDs, senior citizen schemes, etc) or through pensions and rental income, where available. They have very little wiggle room when it comes to deviation from their planned finances.

With average lifespans rising by almost 10 years in two decades, the impact on longevity on such plans are largely underestimated. While most (retirement) planning calculations work on simple inputs – age of retirement, life expectancy, inflation, expected rate of return, current savings, future expenses, etc, – they also tend to look at life after retirement as a stable set of years with an incremental rise in household/family spend.

Today, it is not difficult to find a bunch of retirement calculators with such simplistic assumptions. The question is, what are they missing?

Health spending, medical debt and out-of-pocket expenditure

According to the LASI study, it is estimated that by 2030, 45% of India’s health burden will be borne by the older population. Low levels of public spending (particularly in geriatric care), longer lifespans, rise in chronic conditions (cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, diabetes etc.) and multiple co-morbidities will further push the cost of healthcare for very many of us.

In 2019-20 alone, 5.5 crore Indians were pushed to poverty by medical debt, which can be attributed to many factors including lack of insurance coverage, limited coverage, high cost of care, medical inflation, etc. The out-of-pocket (OOP) expenditure on health care depends on many factors; household income, type of illness, age, sex, type of health facility and quality of care. OOP expenditure on health stands at a worrying 60-65 percent, the highest in the world. While private sector dominance in healthcare provision in urban India (out-patient care, hospitalization, etc) is well known, lack of serious healthcare/medical regulation is unlikely to bring such expenses down in the near future.

According to this study, the monthly per capita expenditure (MPCE) of elderly households is higher than that of non-elderly households possibly due to higher health spending of elderly households compared to non-elderly households (3 times more).

Impact of medical debt and OOP expenditure can be particularly acute in elderly households and households with elders given their sources of revenue are limited and/or fixed.

Health insurance market, medical inflation and treatment costs

With only 137 million lives covered in FY20, India is also a largely underserved market for health insurance. As per the LASI study, only 18.2% of those aged 60 years have health insurance; it is at 23% for those in 45-59 age group; overall 21% of those aged above 45 years are covered by insurance.

This article highlights the market failure and unimpressive outcomes from opening up the health insurance market more than two decades ago, and the rise in cost of insurance premiums.

Retail health insurance has always followed an ‘age-band pricing’ approach where policyholders in a particular age band pay an identical premium and see their premium jump as they move bands, especially amongst higher age groups. Adding to this is the premium revision by insurers, usually in a block of two-four years to keep pace with medical inflation. These factors together can see premiums jump to as high as 50 percent on renewal leading to large risks of selective lapsing.

Deepti Bhaskaran, ORF Expert Speak

Premium revision linked to medical inflation and age-band pricing can have a particularly negative impact on insurance premiums of older adults. Furthermore, health insurance purchase is an onerous task for older adults without family or professional support. While exclusions for older adults have improved over the years, insurance sales, repurchases and claims processing continues to be a very messy operation, and infrequently regulated by IRDAI.

report by Mercer Marsh Benefits said forecasted medical trend rate will be 10 percent in India, while inflation will be at 5 percent. With respect to the diseases, respondents from Asia (including India) said that increased non-communicable diseases will increase employer-sponsored healthcare costs over the next 3 years. These diseases include heart disease, cancers, stroke, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, mental illness and kidney diseases.

The cost of healthcare, and particularly medical treatment, has been rising in India, and has particularly accelerated due to the pandemic. Higher hospitalization charges due to covid-related protocols, additional procedures, etc. have been par for the course. It is estimated that the healthcare expenditure will rise two-fold, and form 11% of private consumption expenditure from the current 5% thus sucking away hard-earned rupees away from other expenditure items. While healthcare facilities and access to modern medicine have improved significantly, affordability continues to be a major challenge. For example, a major medical treatment expense can affect a well-planned retirement plan. An expert tracking the space advised purchase of health insurance early on (to avail differential pricing) and a medical treatment corpus as two ways to deal with such emergency situation. There are likely other options to be explored in the context of one’s support system. For example, Beshak’s Critical Illness Handbook provides a deep-dive into insurance options as an independent and unbiased voice of experts, and is thus highly recommended.


In conclusion…

Planning for retirement is different from planning for a better quality of life. Apart from sound financial health and early planning, it is also important to consider options associated with age-linked care assistance (home care services), short- and long-term medical care, alternate living/custodial arrangements, and other later life transitions. While there is no perfect algorithm that can help arrive at the right plan, it is also never too late to ponder over the question, be it 40 or 75!