Every week I spend a great deal of time scanning newspaper and news sites for interesting stories and snippets of information which grab my attention. The usual daily diet of scandal mongering, royal tours and politicians bickering is of no interest to me and neither are insights into the next must have handbags. What I love to find are the articles and stories that highlight really significant issues and I don’t mean what dress some actress was wearing last night.
The Real News
The really interesting stuff is often buried somewhere where you could easily miss it whilst blinded by pop up adverts for that sofa you have been considering and YouTube videos of ghoulish body piercings. Today the piece that grabbed my attention was in the nether regions of the Huffington Post and it outlined Government plans to provide people with estimates of their life expectancy in order to help them plan their finances.
The idea is that if you know roughly how long you are going to live then you can plan your finances accordingly. Better planning will obviously help the public purse as fewer pensioners will run out of their own cash before they finally shuffle off this mortal coil. Apparently we have tendency to underestimate our longevity and base our projections on our grandparents. As people are living longer with each generation our grandparents are not a good indication of our own fate.
There are also advances in medical science to consider. New treatments and cures are being discovered all the time which surely makes estimating life expectancy nigh on impossible so any Government figures will have to be taken with a pinch of salt. If your family have a history of a certain disease you could be given a rather bleak picture and rush out on a spending spree only for a cure to be found leaving you facing 20 years of poverty because you have blown all of your cash.
Plan for the Best
Surely the best course of action is to presume that a lengthy life awaits you. If our forebears are any indication of what awaits us then I am going to have to seriously address my own finances. My grandmother made it to 96. My father is currently 83 and fit as fiddle. If I have inherited their propensity for longevity then I could well end up being retired for longer than I was working. How on earth am I supposed to finance that? Clearly I couldn’t so I am going to have to work for longer.
Trouble with Time
This could actually be a good thing as I am slightly troubled by the sheer amount of time I may have at my disposal and what the hell I would do with it. My hobbies centre around active pursuits and the great outdoors but I don’t think paragliding, white water rafting and the like are really suitable for the elderly or am I underestimated Octogenarians? I am going to need to change my interests. Perhaps I should take up flower arranging or knitting.
The issue of life expectancy is indeed a big one and there are no easy or reliable answers. A long life is a good thing but throws up all sorts of problems and these issues must be considered carefully if a long life is also to be a happy one. I am not sure whether the proposed Government estimates will serve a useful purpose or not but I think it would benefit us all to consider our own futures a little more carefully.
Sally Stacey is a keen writer who is pondering how she will finance a potentially long life