Longevity risk in retirement

People do not have a crystal ball to tell them how long they will live. Retirement calculators do not either. In North America, Japan, and most of Europe, we are in the Age of Aging. Two-thirds of those over 65 who ever lived are alive now. The world’s fasted growing demographic is those 80 and over. Are you prepared for longevity risk in retirement?

Projections are such that by 2050, one-third of the population in North America will be 60 and over. Globally the number of centenarians will be up by 18 times in the next 50 years. Eighty percent of these will be women if trends hold. In ancient Rome, the average life span was 29 years. How times have changed!

Money in the genes

According to Ted Anton’s 2013 book, The Longevity Seekers: Science, Business and the Fountain of Youth, there are now about 100 labs worldwide dedicated to understanding longevity genes. Drug companies, investors, insurance companies, reporters, medical personnel, and the general public are looking for answers, breakthroughs, opportunities, and profits! Old is gold!

Now researchers are examining glucose levels, insulin, telomeres, stem cells, genetic mapping, resveratrol, inflammation and more to the tune of millions of dollars. It is a race to the next discovery that can be patented, packaged and marketed to a crowd of aging consumers.

Meanwhile, eat veggies and wear sunscreen

The Blue Zones studies on long-living, healthy populations point out the positive effects of good quality sleep and naps, good plant-based nutrition, moderate daily exercise, and continued use of skills and knowledge. Staying put in home communities with social engagement as well as reduced stress is also part of this picture. Use sunscreen because melanoma is one of the fastest increasing types of cancer.

Issues of the Silver Tsunami or Geezer Gusher

From a retirement perspective, what happens when working population numbers go down while dependents go up to as much as one worker to six dependents? Could this be a taxpayer’s nightmare?

The average age of retirement in North America is 62 which politicians figure is too young. Later starts in career, good health, and longevity make the Baby Boomer “burden” the elephant in many rooms.

Did you know Most caretakers are women who are aging themselves?

Will we continue to see increased interest in insurance for personal care, reverse mortgages, granny flats, eldercare programs, businesses providing support services for the aged and their caretakers including respite and home care options?

Advocacy for improved social policy, better and more health care and housing options, greater social equality, and multiple services for seniors is on the rise.

The bottom line consideration for many of us is how to get resources to last for the rest of our possibly quite long lives, up to 30 to 40 years! For some, the solution to longevity risk may be a life annuity.

Will we see more intergenerational conflicts as predicted in David Cravit’s book Beyond Age Rage? In another book by Margaret Atwood called Stone Mattress, she tells a story called ‘Torching the Dusties’. In it, seniors’ homes worldwide are laid siege by youthful protestors urging the oldies to move on and then helping them to do so by burning those homes. This story goes to an extreme to point out the intergenerational debates and conflicts that are arising in the Age of Aging.

When it comes to your retirement plans, are you protected against longevity risk so you can live long and hopefully prosper?


  1. Tiffany Kim

    I there is risk in retirement cos after all you have your children or your family to help you out. Retiree should enjoy everything.

  2. Pat lewis

    I retired at 49 with a secure portfolio of investment properties.
    I continue to buy more & maintain them as a hobby but never stop to worry about running out of cashflow.

    • Claude Mayrand

      I have no skills to match your hobby of maintaining properties, but I agree with you about continuous cash flow.

      I do it with investments, a keyboard and the Internet.

  3. Jill Robson

    Great post Donna, people really have to start thinking now how their life style is going to effect their golden years.

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