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90 is the new 70

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I wish I could say I came up with that witty — and very much true — headline. But to be fair, the credit goes to one of our industry’s news and data arms: LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute.

In a recent news release, the research organization stated that a healthy individual should be prepared to cover costs into their mid-90s, “at minimum.” That’s a far cry from 1955 when the U.S. government statistics on average life expectancy was close to age 70. Should we really be surprised at this announcement, though? 

We’re surrounded by seniors who are going faster, living longer and doing more. My own grandmother worked until she was 80 and was in better shape than me up until she fell ill and passed away at the ripe young age of 92.

And of course there are other, even more surprising, examples. Take Harriett Thompson of Charlotte, North Carolina, for example. Back in May of last year, this 92-year-old cancer survivor became the oldest woman to ever complete a marathon — and in an amazing 7 hours and 42 minutes at that. Or what about Yuichiro Miura, a Japanese Mountaineer who reached the summit of Mount Everest at close to 81 years of age? And then there’s Sister Madonna Buder. This religious racer became the oldest person (man or woman) to finish an Ironman Triathalon. Buder didn’t start competing in such races until she was 55. To this date, she has completed more than 325 triathalons, including 45 Ironman distances. 

You may feel as bad about yourself as I started to feel when writing this. But that is not my intention. I write this to bring awareness to the fact that 90 is indeed the new 70. True, cases like the “Iron Nun” are rare, but the fact is that life spans have increased drastically and will continue to do so. Are your clients prepared for this? Are they fully aware of the many life insurance and retirement products available that can act as a hedge against longevity risk?

It’s up to us to teach them.