The New Longevity (Part 2): Turning Back The Hands of Time?

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In the landmark film, The Graduate, there is a memorable scene in which an older businessman intercepts a young Dustin Hoffman, intent on giving him some sage advice. He leans in and says confidentially, “Young man, I want to say one word to you. Plastics.”

Reverse Mortgage News

If the film were being made today, that older businessman might lean in and whisper, “Telomeres.” These protective end caps on our chromosomes determine how quickly we age and die. Each time our cells divide, the telomeres shorten. Shortening telomeres equal a shortening life.

However, in 2009 scientists discovered a game-changing enzyme, telomerase, that slows, stops, and can even reverse telomere shortening. We’re born with the telomerase gene “turned off,” so that natural aging is inevitable. But if (when) we find a way to switch this gene on, we will have the ability to become immortal. Such research is already underway. Which is a bit of an overwhelming thought. What, for instance, would living forever (or at least for several centuries) mean for the reverse mortgage industry?

In the interim, the upcoming generation of reverse mortgage prospects is reinventing the concept of how and when to die. Just as Boomers have reinvented retirement from a time of withdrawal and relaxation to one of encore careers, they are reclaiming death from fear, pain, and suffering to a time of dignity and control. Clearly, Boomers do not intend to “go gentle into that good night.”

With the last taboo now a subject of dinner conversation at more than 500 Death Cafés worldwide, it seems safe to say that unless and until telomerase is on tap in every home, Boomers will want to discuss and determine what their end of life will look like. So while this topic may or may not have come up in your reverse mortgage settings in the past, it very well may in the future as younger retirees, and those who could retire but choose not to, consider the reverse mortgage option.

Be prepared for the changing demographic to ask challenging questions about meaning, purpose and closure. What referral resources would be helpful to have available when Boomer prospects bring up topics the prior generation of reverse mortgage clients never broached? Boomers want control and ultimately, closure. And their telomeres are driving the train.


Börje Melin February 25, 2014 at 8:51 am

Thanks, Rose, for this critical message so elegantly delivered and well written. Of course therapeutic application of this science is the next step and the economics for its extended and sustained delivery. I invite you to join the #Telomere #Telomerase discussion on Twitter.

May I guest post your article on my blog/?

Amara Rose February 25, 2014 at 10:53 am

Hi Borje ~

Thanks for reading and commenting! Considering that your article provided the impetus and input for mine, turnabout is fair play 🙂 I’ll email you directly so we can adapt this piece for your blog’s focus.


The_Cynic February 25, 2014 at 11:23 am


Thanks for addressing this topic.

We are all aware that most Baby Boomers are far more concerned about their cash inflow shrinking through reduced purchasing power or through loss of asset resources than they are about issues related to dying. Most seniors are not as concerned about completely running out of cash as they are about seeing their cash inflow become inadequate to meet their outflow. At that point seniors begin to lose control over their independence and destiny and they hate thinking about such an outcome.

No one likes to talk about their thin financial condition around the dinner table. So it is important to know what acceptable new dining topics are beginning to take root so that when prospects need a break from their financial condition and dealing with their worry about it and turn to a topic like telomeres we will not be blindsided.

Wealthone February 25, 2014 at 11:34 am

A certain Mr Phil Scott used to ask the homeowner if he had permission to talk about his personal finances and his life expectancy. Then the tape measure would come out.

Amara Rose February 27, 2014 at 8:29 am

Hi Wealthone ~

That’s certainly creative, and must have been a bit scary!

Upleveling Aging | October 9, 2018 at 1:00 am

[…] aging extends beyond mere verbiage, however. As we’ve explored before, telomeres (the tiny “shoelace caps” on our DNA that shorten with age) determine how quickly we […]


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