It's realistic to assume I might live to be 100 years old. Or even older. The demographics, and current life expectancies confirm that. If I had retired at age 60, that would have been 40 years of retirement. If I wait to age 70, it's still 30 years of retirement. It's a little mind-boggling to think about living that long, but the possibility is a reality.
Many retirees can live well on less than what the financial-planning industry tells them. Here's how to look beyond the formulas.
Expensive illnesses, long-term care and extreme longevity can suddenly throw retirees' estimated income needs out of whack. When the Society of Actuaries interviewed middle-class retirees in focus groups earlier this year, "they were managing very carefully, adjusting their spending where they needed to and trying not to draw down" their savings, Ms. Levering says. "But they were not planning for shock events."
Economist James Poterba of MIT put it all together with colleagues at Dartmouth and Harvard's Kennedy School and estimated that about 46% of Americans die with less than $10,000 in assets, many of them lacking even home equity and relying almost entirely on Social Security. The results can be measured in more than merely dollars and cents. Poterba's paper found that this group is "disproportionately in poor health," in part because they have no resources to cover medical expenses outside Medicare.
It's by far the largest study to look at this, and researchers say the conclusion makes sense. Working tends to keep people physically active, socially connected and mentally challenged - all things known to help prevent mental decline. "For each additional year of work, the risk of getting dementia is reduced by 3.2 per cent," said Carole Dufouil, a scientist at INSERM, the French government's health research agency.
Most of us look forward to retirement as a time to shift gears, worry less, and enjoy a slower pace of life. But that rosy picture can quickly change and include some sticker shock as retirement nears, especially when it comes to paying for health care. A couple retiring in 2013 is expected to need $220,000 to cover health care cost in retirement.
Million Hearts is a national initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.