Cannes, France — Ask a room at Lions Health who believes they’ll live to 80 years old? 90? And the hands dart up around the room. Few hands remained held high at the big round benchmark of 100 years but Atilla Cansun from Merck Consumer Health believes we should all go for it.
In some regions around the world, life expectancy is already in the 90s and growing. A newborn in Europe today is projected to live 107 – 110 years. What happens when we do have longer life expectancies?
Cansun says that 50, on average, is the last birthday people look forward to. From there, the expectation changes. People wonder where they fit in, what they have to look forward to and even where they will work. 80% of people, for example, think they have a lower chance of finding a job when they are 50+ than when they are younger. 95% think they will not be supported by the government to participate in society after retirement.
Preparing our world for this new era of people living for 100+ years is going to require real change in attitudes and education:
- 80% of people think society dramatically needs to change its attitude about aging
- 93% think that our kids are not well educated enough to live a long healthy life
All of us have the right to live 100+ kick-ass years, Cansun says. To help start that conversation about change, Merck created We100:
It’s an open source program that partners and like-minded organizations can join. Fifteen specific projects have already been identified. Merck is starting with funding and roll out for four:
- Health education for young people focused on living long, healthy lives
- Volunteer programs designed to bring generations together
- Co-creating new living models with architecture students that focus on lasting independence
- Job search and sourcing platforms for people over 50
The first program – Healthy Hour education – is starting in Africa where the life expectancy has catchup to do and the government is open to co-creating content for schools. The younger generation there is in need of the healthy education. In fact, some call them the weaker generation because fast food has degraded their health and muscle strength. The program will focus on longer-life topics like skincare, obesity, nerve damage, diabetes, cognitive development and bone health.