Yan Barcelo | Journalist
For many of us, the golden years are better than ever--and longer, too. And that's why you need to carefully plan for this stage of your life.
Life expectancy has risen dramatically over time. In 1900, life expectancy in the United States was 48. By 2000, it had gone up to 77.5. In Quebec, it's now 80.8 for men and 84.5 for women. That's a huge gain for humanity, right up there with all the space and technology advances we've made.
Rich and healthy?
It's one thing to live to an old age, but another to be in good health. Things look fairly good on that front; in 2009, 56% of people over 65 said they were in good health, but health quickly declines after age 77.
And then there's the matter of money. Canadians are doing relatively well in this area; the poverty level for people over 65 is only 6.7%, compared to 22% in the U.S. However, it has increased after dipping in the 1990s. Also, most people aren't saving: only 31% of those aged 55 to 64 have accumulated any savings.
A fresh start
While your golden years are likely to be longer, healthier and more prosperous than ever, you should also think about how to make the most of those years. That's what more and more retirees are doing. Many retirees in the U.S. live by the motto, "Don't retire, refire!"
There are countless retirees who are refiring--in all directions. One 82-year-old woman got her PhD in literature from the Université de Sherbrooke, and a 68-year-old man started a business in Gaspésie; and then at age 81, he started another one in seawood farming.
The key question you need to ask yourself when it comes to making a fresh start is: are you ready?
Here are a few things for you to think about to help determine where you're at.
No matter how old you are, it's never too late to start.
- Desired level of income
- Expected retirement age
- Sources of income
- And so on
If you develop good habits early on, it will pay off in the long run.
- Physical activity
An American study found that those with an extensive social network live 22% longer than those with a small network.
- Spouse who is also retired
- Social network
- Community involvement
After all, there are 168 hours in a week, so it's worth taking some time to think about the 20 years you'll be spending in retirement. To go further with your planning and get advice that's right for your situation, complete the Retirement Index.
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