It’s a name change, but a necessary one. What we’ve always called Retirement Planning is quickly becoming Longevity Planning as Americans live longer because of better lifestyles and improvements in medicine.
My own family is a perfect example. My great-grandfather died when he was 65. My grandfather was 82 when he passed. And my dad lived to 90. Whether you credit it to medicine or just really good genes, if the trend continues, I could live to 95 or 100. And the same thing is happening frequently in families all across the country.
Even financial planning is embracing this trend of longer life expectancy. It wasn’t long ago planners used ages in the low 80’s as their mortality target. Now, in our practice, we use 90 or higher depending on a person’s family history. The financial planning industry is following suit.
The difference between retirement planning and longevity planning is the list of considerations. Longevity planning must include caregiving, transportation services, healthcare, and risk management issues associated with aging, such as long-term care, Medicare strategy, and even elder financial fraud protection. These are not the good old days when family members lived down the street or even in the same town and could care for mom and dad quickly. These days caring for parents and relatives is a long distance business and local care arrangements have to be made. The caregiver becomes the CEO of their parent’s care. Longevity planning is a very real need that requires holistic thinking.
Joseph Coughlin, director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Age Lab, says three questions should be asked when making quality retirement decisions: “Who will change my lightbulbs? How will I get an ice cream cone? Who will I have lunch with?”
Coughlin outlines the demographic changes that have made longevity planning so valuable for most U.S. families. “The baby boomers are facing a different retirement than their parents. They’re more likely to live alone, to have fewer children, and to live in suburban and rural locations that may not provide easy access to active and livable communities.”
The MIT Age Lab also provides a list of longevity planning resources that can be helpful when creating a longevity plan for you and those you may have to care for:
Safe Driving & Lifelong Transportation
We Need to Talk: Family Conversations with Older Drivers addresses questions about whether a loved one is driving safely and provides ideas on how to initiate constructive conversations with loved ones around the driving issue.
Your Road Ahead: A Guide to Comprehensive Driving Evaluations has information about whether a personalized driving evaluation, conducted by an occupational therapist with specialized training, is right for you or for a loved one.
At the Crossroads: Family Conversations about Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia and Driving contains information about the issue of driving and dementia and about how to transition a loved one with dementia from driver to passenger.
Some women who find themselves widowed may also find themselves in the position of becoming solely responsible for their own mobility, or for the transportation needs of others in the household. For some, the change from primary passenger to primary driver is a dramatic one. For information and support for making this transition, see Your Road to Confidence: A Widow’s Guide to Buying, Selling and Maintaining a Car.
Older adults may be particularly vulnerable to the risks of a natural disaster. Planning in advance can help older adults and their families be safer and reduce stress. For older adults and families, see It Could Happen to Me: Family Conversations About Disaster Planning, for the ABCs of disaster preparedness.
The Calm Before the Storm: Family Conversations about Disaster Planning, Caregiving, Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia draws on insights from families and caregivers with a loved one with dementia to provide suggestions and information about planning more successfully for natural disasters.
The Apps, Sites & Devices Changing the Way We Age reveals an array of apps, sites, and devices that can make it easier for you to work (if you want to), stay healthy, live in the home of your choice, and remain socially connected as you age. These ideas aren’t all-inclusive, but can start you down the path of using technology to live better.
Three Questions That Can Predict Future Quality of Life presents three simple questions you should ask yourself to assess how prepared you are to live well in retirement. What do these questions have to do with retirement planning? A lot more than you may think. They actually uncover important factors that will determine your future quality of life and serve as a starting point for planning a satisfying retirement.
8,000 Days Workbook presents several ways to help you rethink this 8000-day portion of your life so you can make the most of your retirement by looking at it in four phases.
Hidden Costs of Caring: Where to Turn for Help When You Are the Helper provides financial advisors and clients with an overview of caregiving—what it is, who is most likely to provide it, what the associated costs are, and where those who are providing care to an older adult can turn for help.
The Caregiver’s Guide to Financial Planning in the Shadow of Dementia equips caregivers with the information and tools to ask the right questions and navigate financial decisions effectively on the behalf of family members living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Why Women Worry explores reasons why women may face a more challenging task planning for and living in retirement than men do.
Couples Planning examines how different married couples’ styles of financial management may be related to their success in retirement planning.
Modern Ideas, Modern Living: Home Design and Planning for the Lifestyle You Want discusses people’s changing environmental needs and wants with age, examines elements of the age-friendly home and neighborhood, and provides checklists for homeowners thinking about the future.