Michele Carby Investigates: Genes and Retirement Planning

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The Age of your Parents is not an Accurate Guide to how Long you will Live
According to a survey conducted by the Society of Actuaries, around half the population of America looks at family history when trying to work out their own life expectancy.  Financial planners often say they discuss life expectancy with their clients when retirement planning.  Yet all the information we have shows that the age of your parents offers at best only a tiny indication to how long you will live.

Genes and Retirement Planning
Medical research is showing that the age of our parents does not really come into play when determining how long we will live, at least until we start to approach retirement ourselves.  If one of our parents lives to a 100, and we start approaching 60, we can be fairly certain that we will not be affected by age related illnesses.  This is thrown into further doubt should one parent outlive the other by a considerable margin.

Studies in Scandinavia have shown that twins can die ten years apart, while Jay Olshansky, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Illinois School of Public Health, states that genes play a significant role if they are lethal, “for those carrying lethal genes, it’s 100 percent genetic.”

Lifestyle Impacts
Lifestyle seems to be key to a longer life.  Most inherited conditions that would shorten our lives can be controlled through drugs or diet, and how much we exercise plays an important role too.

Long life begins with genetics, but it can be modulated through lifestyle,” Olshansky says. “The only control we have over our duration of time is to shorten it, and we exercise that control all the time.”

Retirement planning to ensure you Have Funds for Life
As we plan our retirement, we have numerous financial vehicles to choose from.  Opinion is somewhat divided in the financial planning world as to what works best or when.  One aspect where experts do agree is that the longer you can delay claiming your pension, the better return you will get from it.  This can be an extra 8% if inflation and a few other factors go your way.

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