What if I Live to 100?

August 15th 2014, by Lyle E. Hershey

I recently listened to a presentation by Katherine Roy, Chief Retirement Strategist and Head of Individual Retirement for JP Morgan Asset Management.  She researches, tracks, and publishes retirement trends and statistics.  One of the more fascinating topics she highlighted in her presentation was longevity.  According to Katherine’s findings, the current longevity statistics point to the fact that Americans are living longer.  One example, for a couple who has attained age 65, there is a 47% chance that one of the spouses will live to age 90. This is an increase of 2% over last year.  If this percentage continues to increase, many more of us will be living into our 90s.

One of the resources referenced in Roy’s presentation was a website, http://gosset.wharton.upenn.edu/mortality/.  At this website, you can answer a series of health and lifestyle questions, and it will give you a statistical projection of your life expectancy.  I took a few minutes recently and completed the personal survey.  I found that my life expectancy is 87.3 years, but more surprising to me was the fact that I have a 25% chance of living until age 96.5.

During the last several weeks, I have found myself reflecting more deeply on the topic of longevity.  At this point I have more questions than answers, but I thought that some of the questions I have been asking might be good for others to contemplate.

  • Would knowing my exact life span be a surprise to me, whether shorter or longer than I had expected?
  • Would knowing the amount of time I have remaining cause me to make any different choices today?
  • Would my current lifestyle choices promote a good quality of life in my latter years if I were to live into my 90s or beyond?
  • What intentional effort am I making to establish relevant and lasting relationships with my children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, others?

I believe aging can be a good thing; however, it takes intentional planning and preparation to seize the opportunities ahead of us.