By many measures, Stanley and June Blum have an ideal retirement. He is a retired shoe-industry executive who paints and writes poetry. She is a psychologist who still works part-time. They split their time between an apartment in New York City and a house in the country, about a two-hour drive away, in Rhinebeck, N.Y.
Not bad for a couple married for more than 75 years and approaching the second century of life. Stanley is 97 and June is 96.
But what is perhaps most remarkable about the Blums and others like them is that, well, they are not very remarkable — or at least not as remarkable as they used to be. As of 2014, there were 72,197 Americans 100 years old or older, a 44% increase since 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This is probably just the beginning. By 2050, there are expected to be a million centenarians in the United States. And even those who don’t reach 100 have a good chance of living well into their 90s.
That is welcome news, of course. But the Blums are an example of the challenge as well as the promise of longevity. That’s because the aging couple are running out of money.
How do financial advisers make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to their clients? How do they make sure they are saving enough to enjoy the retirement they have envisioned, and that their nest egg will provide for them not only in their 70s and 80s, but into their 90s and beyond?
And in an age of ever-rising medical costs, how do advisers make sure their clients have planned accordingly for “old age” illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and dementia that many of them are sure to face? If they do need long-term care, will their clients be able to afford to live their final days in a nursing home or assisted-living facility without going broke?
The answer is more complicated than simply looking at actuarial tables and advising clients to save more, though most people need to.
Harold Evensky, chairman of the planning firm Evensky & Katz, says the industry so far is not grappling with the issue of aging in a widespread, thoughtful way, beginning with making individual estimates of longevity based on health and family history.
And he says he worries for the future. “I think there are going to be an awful lot of people whose lifestyle is going to be dramatically impacted,” he said.
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