Seniors & Technology

Pew Research underscores the tech isolation of real seniors. The majority of real seniors are not online.   The Pew technology survey is up to date – and it is a reflection that tech, training, and perception of benefit have a ways to go with real seniors – aged 75+. Fewer than half (47%) of the 75-79 age group and 37% of the 80+ are online.  And if they were, most do not have broadband access at home. And among the 65+, the song and dance about ease of use of smart phones and tablets is not resonating – 40% of seniors say that physical challenges make some activities difficult – and for those, even fewer go online. And for all the social pressure and media assumptions about online use, non-users do not believe they are at a real disadvantage.

Assume You'll Live a Long, Long Time

The Social Security Commission estimates that one in four people will live past the age of 90, and one in 10 might live past age 95. If these numbers appear more ambitious than the ones you usually hear, such as the average life expectancy of a 65-year-old male is 82, that's because no one is average.1 

"Average" is just a mathematical calculation that combines the highs and lows -- it doesn't express the fact that those high and low numbers represent actual ages. For the sake of discussion, an average life expectancy generally means that roughly half of the population lives less than average and approximately half lives longer than average. 

Obviously, the entire senior population will not die at age 82. And with life expectancies increasingly on the rise, the size of the senior population is expected to grow. According to a study by Mercer consultants, the number of people reaching age 85 is expected to triple, from 4 million today to 14 million.2 

Who is likely to live longer? Mortality research has identified the following characteristics of people who typically live longer than others:3

  • Their mother was younger than 25 when they were born
  • Females typically live longer than males
  • People who live in rural or low-income areas tend to have shorter life expectancies
  • Wealthy
  • Not overweight
  • Highly educated
  • Married
  • States with the largest populations, such as California, New York, Florida and Texas generally have the most centenarians

Researchers theorize that people who live in larger cities are exposed to much more mental stimulation, cultural resources like the symphony, better doctors and hospitals, better transportation and more social networks.4 These life-enriching components contribute to a longer life. 

Indeed, greater wealth enables people to counter the four behaviors responsible for much of the illness and death related to chronic diseases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). These behaviors are (1) the lack of physical activity, (2) poor nutrition, (3) tobacco use and (4) excessive alcohol consumption. Not surprisingly, a 2014 CDC report found that people can live longer if they practice one or more healthy lifestyle behaviors -- not smoking, eating a healthy diet, getting regular physical activity and limiting alcohol consumption. Among these behaviors, not smoking is the most effective, as it offers the greatest protection from an early death due to all causes.5 

Obviously, living longer means planning for more funds to pay for the potential for greater medical and long-term care expenses -- including deteriorating cognitive functions. The more healthy behaviors you engage in, the more important it is to work with your financial professional to develop a retirement income plan for the optimal scenario: a longer-than-anticipated life

1, Sept. 16, 2014, "Sizing Up a Client's Lifespan,", accessed Oct. 6, 2014.
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid.
5 Ibid.