The New Zealand Seniors Series: The Third Act

The New Zealand Seniors Series: The Third Act The Third Act explores the possibility of a 100-year lifespan for New Zealanders and what it means for us on a national scale.

The average life expectancy in New Zealand currently stands at 81.6 years, and as this figure continues to rise, it can lead us to question what we really want out of life and what the societal impacts are for us, and others. This is explored in detail in our latest instalment of research – The Third Act report.

This period in our lives, the Third Act, is a time of life-altering, remarkable experiences that happen in our later years, and our research considers how retirement, health and technology, ageism and public perception play into this new life stage.

As life expectancy lengthens, coming to terms with the possibility of a 100-year lifespan is a cherished goal for some, and a rude awakening for others. The Third Act report reveals that reaching the grand age of 91 would be just plenty. In fact, four in five (83%) of us would be happy to accept whatever fate has in store – a sign of contentment to say the least.

With great age comes great responsibility

While living longer may seem a luxury for some, we cannot ignore the enormous challenges the New Zealand economy will face as a result. The Third Act report shows three quarters (74%) believe New Zealand is ill-equipped to deal with a wave of centenarians.

Ever since the phrase ‘ageing population’ made its way into our everyday vernacular, the topic of an ageing workforce and the complexities that come with this have been widely discussed. Whilst an ageing workforce welcomes a wealth of skills, experience and maturity to modern day workplaces the prospect of age discrimination in the workplace is causing unmistakable anxiety. 

Demonstrating the harsh reality of age discrimination, or more briefly ‘ageism’, the research reveals that close to four in five (79%) agree ageism is prevalent and a similar number (77%) believe it is a serious issue.

And, as a third of us (33%) plan to either re-enter the workforce or return to study after retirement, ageism is front of mind for many. Not to mention the one in five (21%) of us who have already retired and re-entered the workforce.

The role of technology

Living in a fast-paced digital age means adjusting, regardless of which generation we belong to. And, contrary to stereotypical belief, people aged over 50 years are a lot more tech-savvy than what we’re given credit for; the report shows that almost all of us are far more connected to the world than previous generations, and we have technology to thank for that (97%).

The inaccurate view that seniors are not tech-enthusiasts or tech savvy is a pet peeve shared by three in five (61%) of us. After all, we are part of the generation who has seen the rapid growth and evolution of technology. When it comes to what we value on the tech-front, we rank improved communications (76%), advances in remote medicine (76%) and Augmented Reality (AR) (67%) as the most important technological advancements for achieving longer, happier and healthier lives. 

The rise of the ‘three-quarter life crisis’

The ‘mid-life crisis’ has notoriously been associated with an identity struggle filled with reminiscing over regrets and problems and adjusting to change. However, as we embrace a longer timeline we can welcome in the refreshing ‘three-quarter life crisis’, an epiphany period for reassessing the people, places and passions that are important to us.

Reflecting on the report, half of us (50%) agree the ‘mid-life crisis’ is being replaced by the ‘three-quarter life crisis’, and close to half (46%) know someone who has experienced one. Furthermore, around one in three of us (31%) have experienced a ‘three-quarter life crisis’, with fears of deteriorating physical health and mental health the key drivers of the modernised life reassessment (42% and 29% respectively).

Age really is just a number

We grew up in a time of dramatic social, cultural, economic and environmental change. The Third Act report demonstrates the ways in which we are adjusting and evolving in a digital, and very different world, to the one we were born into; a world where living to 100 could very well become the norm.

And while age really is just a number, reaching triple digits can mean more opportunities and more time to embrace everything this wonderful world has to offer us.

More research by New Zealand Seniors