Short essays by Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., the author of TING AND I: A Memoir of Love, Courage and Devotion, published in September 2011 by Outskirts Press (Parker, CO, USA), available from outskirtspress.com/tingandi, Barnes and Noble [bn.com], and Amazon [amazon.com], in paperback or ebook formats. Please visit us at tingandi.com for more information.
Saturday, October 8, 2016
Planning on Living to 98?
Do you want to live to be 98? My mother lived
that long. She enjoyed almost all but her last year. Do you think you’d still
enjoy life into your 90s?
I just took a very brief MetLife insurance Company
test on the Internet, and based on that, I’ve got a 50% chance of reaching 93
and 25% chance of 98. Surprise! How about you? Here’s the link to the MetLife Life Expectancy Calculator.
Interestingly, the test does not ask about
health status directly, but it requests blood pressure, height, weight, gender,
marital status, drinking, smoking, and exercise. Nothing about familial
longevity. The test just gives estimates, averages. Its goal is to alert the
user to how much longer he or she will live, and how much longer retirement
funds need to last.
the Average Woman in Her 60s Will Live a Couple More Decades
If you don’t want to take that little test,
you can note the numbers provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Their tables indicate that
white women 60 to 70 years old now can expect on average to live to 85 to
86…and you’re above average, no? You are if you’ve been paying attention to
your health, avoiding obesity, limiting alcohol consumption, exercising, and
not smoking. These factors raised my own life expectancy from 86 for the
average white male my age (73) into my 90s. Healthful practices could do the
same for you.
Women tend to live longer than men. Race
plays a role. Asian-Americans have longer life expectancies, African-Americans
shorter. Family genetics also plays a role, as will your current health status.
Rather than its being “later than you think,”
you probably will live longer than you expect. It’s time to consider these
elements of a successful extended retirement: health, wealth, relationships,
The elements of the life expectancy
calculator give you a heads-up on what’s important for preserving your health: weight,
blood pressure, exercise, alcohol, and smoking. Nothing you can do about your genes.
Make sure to get medical check-ups regularly and heed the advice of medical
professionals. In addition, make changes to your home and habits to reduce the
likelihood of falls. Improve your nutrition. Walk more.
If you live in the U.S., you’ll probably be
getting Medicare after 65 [some with low incomes will have Medicaid] and you will
likely add an insurance supplement. Note that “affordable” medical plans have
significant deductibles, charges that you will pay before the insurance coverage
kicks in, and there often are co-pays. Research this or get some professional
advice or do both.
Run out of Money
You’ll want to supplement your Social
Security and other retirement funds. Part-time work might be suitable. Work can
make your week more varied and interesting.
Investments usually include savings, home
ownership, stocks, and bonds. [I prefer Exchange-Traded Funds, ETFs, index
funds that just move with market averages and have minimal management costs.] Diversification
is key, as is getting advice from someone knowledgeable but who does not have a
conflict of interest. Don’t invest in anything you don’t understand.
Withdrawing funds from a tax-deferred
retirement account? The U.S. government requires its citizens to calculate the
minimum yearly withdrawal based on a life expectancy of 100. Withdrawing more
will have you run out sooner.
and Enhance Personal Relationships
Tend to your friendships and family ties.
Perhaps there are little disagreements or slights you can decide to ignore. Sometimes
I meet with friends and family by driving to a restaurant midway between our
homes. I’ve just started to make “telephone dates” with too-distant friends and
family members, setting mutually convenient times to chat. I wish I’d started
Your Free Time
Your free time can be a blessing or a curse. With
health and wealth, your options will be many. Without both, you’ll need to be
more resourceful. Poor health can be very limiting, but not having much money
needn’t be. Inexpensive activities include volunteering, local travel, and most
It Time to Hit the Road?
Traveling often requires both health and wealth,
especially the farther and longer the trips. You may want to find a partner to
share these trips with.
Freeing up some of your money and reducing
your home-maintenance time by moving to smaller quarters can make good sense.
Keep in mind whether you are likely to need extra room for visitors or aides.
The good news: you may well live longer than
you expect. You should heed the title of Robert Frost’s poem, “Provide,
Provide.” Take steps now to enhance your health, wealth and personal
relationships to enjoy these after-60 decades.
is your life expectancy now? How are you planning to have enough free time,
money, and health to enjoy it? Please join the conversation.
Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., is a former
Harvard science professor. He still publishes, and he helps others write and
publish their books via his http://WriteYourBookWithMe.com. His life's central theme has been his half-century romance with his wife Tina Su Cooper, now quadriplegic
for over a decade due to multiple sclerosis, receiving 24/7 nursing care at
home, as discussed at their website here.