2021, and another year older. As financial advisers, the idea of life expectancy introduces significant variables to a retiree’s financial well-being. If we knew our actual departure date from this life, it would be infinitely easier to decide when to begin Social Security or which pension option to select. As documented by the Society of Actuaries, longevity risk continues to elude retirees. Their findings indicate that 50% of retirees do not look beyond 10 years in making financial decisions, yet simultaneously, a high percentage expect to live beyond age 85.
So, what can we do to better understand our own mortality? The major components to life expectancy are genetics and lifestyle. Genetics account for approximately 20–30%, until about age 80, when it then skyrockets to 100%. While we can’t do anything about our genetics, we can perhaps better understand the lifestyle choices we elect.
Did you know that six 30-minute brisk walks per month could reduce your mortality rate by 30%, while maintaining a healthy weight could add up to six years to your life expectancy? But it is not just your weight that matters, it is where your weight accumulates that counts. If your waist measurement is over 40″ for a man or over 35″ for a woman, you could have a 25% higher mortality risk. If you sit for more than 8 hours per day, your likelihood of a premature death increases by 18%. Note the key factor here is prolonged sitting, so even an hour aerobics class won’t reverse this dangerous habit. Getting between 5 to 9 hours of sleep won’t impair your longevity, but anything above or below this range could prove destructive. Managing your stress levels is vital for a long life. This is perhaps why people who live in Hawaii outlive all the other states, with an average age of 81.3 years.
To foster a better understanding of your unique circumstances, check out these fun and interesting life expectancy calculators:
Use this information to make the best possible choices for the upcoming year.
Originally published January 2014