Dancing Strong at Age 99
Life Expectancy at Age 99
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My grandmother is about to turn 99 – she's in pretty good physical condition, just a bit frail. She doesn't have dementia, but she's a bit "foggy," if you know what I mean (easily confused, can't participate in her card games any more, not really following most conversations, that sort of thing). But there's nothing actually wrong with her – her heart is good, no diabetes, nothing. The problem is, we didn't expect her to live this long, and the family has to figure out how to stretch her money longer than we thought we'd need to. I hate to sound cold, but is there any way to make a reasonable guess at her life expectancy at this point?
— Bob, California
We can make a reasonable guess based on the U.S. census projection, which says the life expectancy of a woman who is 99 is approximately 2.7 years. This means that half of 99-year-old women will die within the next 2.7 years and the other half will live longer. I'm afraid there's no way to tell which of those two groups your grandmother will be in.
One of the remarkable things about centenarians is the extent to which they maintain their independence; 75 percent do so through age 95, but then deterioration sets in, more so with woman than with men. This is interesting because 85 percent of centenarians are women and only 15 percent are men, yet the men who survive seem to be more fit.
The bottom line is, you're right to be concerned that your grandmother may outlive her finances, so it's important for your family to plan accordingly.
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