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October 08, 2014
Living to 100 becoming normal

There was a time when a person living to age 100 would be featured in newspapers and receive a congratulatory letter from the Queen.

While still relatively rare, more people than ever are living to celebrate their centennial year.  Life expectancies are increasing.  Today, 6,000 people are age 100 or older, according to Statistics Canada.  
By 2061, the number of centenarians will increase more than 10-fold to 78,000, the government agency predicts.

Increasing lifespans will soon present new social challenges for the country as well as financial and health challenges for a large segment of the population, according to BMO Wealth Institute’s Living to Age 100 report.

According to the report, since 1970, male life expectancies have increased by 10 years to age 79.3 while women’s life spans have risen by more than seven years to age 83.6.

“It’s clear there is a major demographic shift happening in our country,” says BMO Senior Manager of Wealth Planning Chris Buttigieg.  “As Canadians’ longevity improves, they should account for the health and financial issues that come with the possibility of living a longer life.”

More than 15 per cent of the Canadian population is already age 65 or older, the BMO report notes.

According to the report, few Canadians have considered the impact that health care expenses will have on their lifestyle in later years.  The BMO study suggests that out-of-pocket medical costs alone for those age 65 and older amount to an average of $5,391 per year.  Over the 35-year span to age 100, that can be a significant amount of money.  

Other “extra” costs of living longer, such as housing, food, clothing or other special expenses such as home care, also should be factored in retirement planning decisions, the BMO says.

“Few seem to appreciate the extent of the health care expenses they will incur,” Mr. Buttigieg says.  

The Living to Age 100 report’s findings mirror those published by the chief actuary of Canada.  According to Chief Actuary Jean-Claude Ménard, advances in life expectancy include the following:

  • In the past decade, life expectancy has increased by an average of two years.  “Over the past decade alone, life expectancy at age 65 has increased by two years, a rate of growth of about twice that observed over previous decades,” Mr. Ménard says.
  • The chances of a newborn reaching age 65 have increased from 57 per cent in 1925 to
    87 per cent in 2010.  By 2075, that probability will increase to 93 per cent.
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