Transamerica, Aegon's business in the United States, has entered a collaboration with the Stanford Center on Longevity, a research effort involving more than 140 Stanford University faculty members dedicated to redesigning long life.
The Stanford Center on Longevity studies the nature and development of the human life span, looking for ways to integrate science and technology.
Transamerica's involvement with the Center builds on the company's commitment to helping people live longer, better. In addition to working with Stanford, Transamerica supports the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies® and works closely with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's MIT AgeLab, a program that strives to improve the quality of life of an aging population and caregivers.
Transamerica is a sponsor of the Stanford Center's Sightlines Project that investigates how well Americans are doing in areas deemed critical to well-being as people age: financial security, social engagement and healthy living. Findings are based on analyses of eight nationally representative, high quality, multi-year studies over two decades involving more than 1.2 million Americans.
The Sightlines Project uncovered encouraging news about American lifestyles, but also revealed concerns.
On the positive side, smoking is in decline among Americans of every age group, and more Americans are exercising regularly, with more than half of all Millennials (ages 25-34) getting at least the recommended amount of exercise.
Problems with diet and sleep
However, problems with diet and sleep are widespread, and sitting—an indicator of sedentary lifestyles—has emerged as an independent risk factor.
While living longer is becoming more likely, the Center found financial security has deteriorated from 2000 to 2014, especially among the least educated. Fewer Americans are opening retirement savings accounts prior to age 55, and only a third of American workers who have access to workplace savings plans open an account.
"Aging is a big space, and there are a lot of different ways to tackle it," said Greg Smith, Transamerica vice president of thought leadership strategy. "These are the conversations that matter. Working with different universities in different ways is a big part of uncovering new ways of understand aging and how we address retirement readiness and the needs of caregivers."
Smith said working with teams that have a broad range of interests—combining hard, academic research and the broad work of practitioners in the field—helps Transamerica share insights that help financial professionals and their clients.
"Speaking honestly and with simplicity and clarity helps us share the connections between health, wealth, and a holistic, lifestyle approach to financial management," he said. "We believe you best address the issues that will face us all later in life by addressing them early."
Stanford University President John Hennessy applauded the Center's work.
Greatest opportunities of our times
"The Sightlines Project, led by our own Stanford Center on Longevity, has made significant headway in illuminating the means to a better future for Americans living long and living well in the 21st century," Hennessy said. "I look forward to the collaboration and innovation needed among universities, industry, and the public sector to capitalize on one of the greatest opportunities of our times."
The Stanford Center on Longevity was founded by two of the world's leading authorities on longevity and aging. Founding Director Laura Carstensen, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology. Her research has been supported for more than 20 years by the National Institute on Aging. And Deputy Director Thomas Rando M.D., Ph.D., is a professor of neurology and neurological sciences.
With life expectancies on the rise, the Center aims to bring about profound advances in the quality of life from early childhood to old age.