On Aging

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Summer is a busy time for birthdays in my family. It seems like there is a celebration almost every other weekend.  The ages of the celebrants cover a wide range - from one to ninety-two! Several celebrated what we think of as "milestones." 

This prompted some conversations about the way we look at age. When I was twelve, I couldn't wait to be a teen and experience the independence of not "being treated as a kid." By the time I was sixteen and finally got my drivers license, I wanted to be 21. When I was 21, I wondered if I had to wait until 30 to earn respect as an adult. My views on aging changed as I grew older.  Even though I still see myself as young, I know that to some in my family I must appear old, dare I say, elderly. 

So, I was heartened by a survey I saw reported in Investment News recently concerning a global survey regarding the way people's views have changed. It seems that I am now just middle aged since survey responders pegged Middle Age as starting at 48. Even better, I won't start Old Age until I hit 71. Personally, I am hoping the trend pushes that back to 75 by the time I get there. Bottom line, our longer life spans are forcing people to reexamine the traditional life stages. 

As a financial planner, an important part of my job is to help people better prepare for these different stages. The same survey reported that more than two-thirds of the respondents worry about their own preparedness and an astonishing 40% would rather die young if getting to their 90's included a loss of mobility or independence. Of course, good health is an important consideration but I would suggest that accumulating sufficient assets to live independently for an extended period is also critical. And, there are just too many people who haven't set aside nearly enough. 

Bob Hope famously said, "Getting old is not for sissies."  It is also not for the unprepared and underfunded. Financial advisers have to do a better job helping people to develop meaningful savings plans that stand the test of time. There will simply be too many of us for the traditional  social and governmental institutions to support if we do not do more to take care of ourselves. 

The survey was conducted by Euro RSCG Worldwide and can be viewed here

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