Health, Wealth, Self: a paradigm for longer life


Today we welcome two new guest contributors; Yvonne Sonsino and Kate Clark of Mercer. Experts in the area of HR, their focus has been the challenges posed by longer lives and the interaction of health, wealth and self. Yvonne is also the author of The New Rules of Living Longer – How to survive your longer life

These are issues of concern for all age groups, as there is also a growing divergence in our rates of aging, with diet and exercise determining wider variations in chronological and biological ages; increasingly some forty-year-olds have the body of a seventy-year-old, while some seventy-year-olds will have a biological age closer to a forty-year-old. This means taking stock of health, wealth and adopting plans for as fulfilling a future as possible – and as Yvonne and Kate point out, this may be even more urgent for women.

One thing is clear: healthy living = smarter ageing.

We know there are links between our health and our wealth. In order to work we need to be fit enough to do so, and people can start to worry more about this as they get older. We also know that financial pressures cause stress and that stress has adverse effects on our health. In our view, we need to consider a holistic solution to good living in later life.  Some sort of ‘lifestyle spa’ treatment. The solution needs to bring together ‘our health, our wealth and our self’. So let’s consider how these pieces link, particularly when it comes to ageing.

Assuming our primary aims are to be fulfilled, have fun and be happy throughout our childhood and our adult lives, we need to explore how these continue when much of the infrastructure to enable these goals, drops away. Working, having families, studying, create an infrastructure that provides experiences that lead to being fulfilled and having fun. Yes, they can also create a place for stress I hear you say! But in retirement, working, studying, and sometimes our families may not be around to keep us gainfully occupied.  Idle thumbs.

Ageing well, and how it is changing now that we are living longer, can be thought of as a spectrum of wants and needs.  Let’s take a look at how that is changing now that children born today have a one in three chance of living to 100.

To some, ageing well means sustaining good looks and fitness and maintaining a great circle of friends. To others, ageing well means having the financial resources to do the things they have longed for during a hard-working life. And others will seek fulfilment in keeping occupied with work, voluntary work and hobbies. But which one is right for you? And how do you find out?

The Mercer mid-life MOT

Mercer is developing a suite of tools and processes that help you to answer these questions in the round.  This means taking stock of your health, your wealth and yourself all at the same time. Call it a mid-life MOT! Checking in on your pensions and finances to see if you need to be working longer and at what age you can start to wind down new income production can be daunting. Did you know for example, that if you are a woman, your pension could be as much as 40% lower than a man of the same age, even if you both had the same job in your career? The reason for this is the combined impact of career breaks, gender pay gaps, investment attitudes, and the fact that women live longer than men[1]. On average, the pension gap for women in Europe (yes Europe) is 40%. This can come as a shock. Coupled with an increasing State Pension Age, it can also lead to severe financial hardship.

And this is where you can see the link between wealth and health becoming more important. If you need to keep working, then you need to be fit enough to do so. Checking in on your health is always important, but now not just as you get older; we all need to be able to ask ourselves whether we are fit and ready to live to 100? What condition is body and mind?  What worries us most about living to 100, and how can we take steps to allay these fears?  There are some good new habits that can help and taking them on board may mean using extra healthy years to boost extra wealthy years.

What’s the link to your self likely to mean?

Jobs are changing. So are employment patterns. There are few jobs for life anymore, while automation looms on the horizon for many occupations. One recent report suggests that three new classes of worker will soon dominate: robots, artisans and health workers. Will your skills still be relevant in such a world, or would it be worthwhile brushing up?

Keep your mind active, learn new skills, turn your hobbies into artisan style ‘Jobbies’, this might all be worthwhile ways to ensure you can stay earning and bridge any financial gaps that may appear in your assessments, as well as a great way to ensure a steady stream of social life and company too!

Health – Wealth – Self:

inter-related and co-dependent factors in designing longer, healthier and happier lives.


About the authors


Yvonne is currently leading major global projects around the future of work, jobs and skills, ageing populations, automation and process improvement, the design of agile / flexible working practices and EVP.

Yvonne was Co-Chair of the UK Government Department for Work and Pensions Fuller Working Lives Business Strategy Group, working with employers on achieving the right strategy to recruit, retain and retrain older workers. Her own first book, The New Rules of Living Longer, was published in November 2015, with a foreword from the UK Pensions Minister. Yvonne is an Advisory Board member of Transform Ageing.


Kate specialises on the customer’s perspective, operating in Technology she focusses on delivering market leading and client-relevant products.


[1] Sonsino, Yvonne 2015; The New Rules of Living Longer – How to survive your longer life. MSL Publishing


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