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Aging and Longevity

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Why am I passionate about this subject? When I began my work as a financial planner, in 1984, the oldest client I had was 75. I didn’t know anyone who was 90. That demographic has shifted, and I know and work with several people who are 90 or older. As I near the typical retirement age, I realize these are my issues as well and I don’t want to stop working.

We know that by 2050 almost 450 million people will be 80 or older. That is more than the current U.S. population of 326 million. Half of the children born in 2007 will live to over 100 years old. The current expression is that 80 is the new 60. Living longer doesn’t necessarily mean maintaining vibrancy. So, we need to consider what kind of life we want and what that will cost. Do we want to age in our existing homes, move near family members who can care for us, choose a continuous care community? All are options to learn more about both financially and how each meshes with your values.

In a recent webinar I attended, Dr. Joe Coughlin from the Age Lab at MIT shared some interesting information.

  • Illnesses that used to be “killers” are now chronic illnesses.
  • A newer concept is the “longevity economy” – what products will be necessary for this aging population.
  • The current senior housing inventory is larger than what people are buying because it was designed for our parents not for what baby boomers want.
  • We will use technology more – smartphones won’t be the only embraced device. Houses, according to Dr. Coughlin, may have as many as 500 smart devices. They will keep you healthy and well, analyze what is in your refrigerator, home care or health care “on-demand”.
  • Consider Uber-type services that will deliver food or prescriptions.
  • People will join online communities to stay connected socially (i.e. Wii groups)

Even with chronic illness, a person will have resources to stay connected and get the services they need. Just like we’ve often added costs for extra travel during retirement, we will now need to factor in costs for those additional resources.