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Hoping to Grow Old? Some Longevity Calculators

The fastest growing population group in the US is the cohort aged 85 and older.

Some are lucky, healthy and financially strong. Others, not so much. Let’s hope you make it to advanced age and fit in that first fortunate group. Our statistically-conscious society is overflowing with calculators, tools to estimate life expectancy.

Here are a bunch of them, for your planning purposes, your serious reflections on mortality, or just your simple amusement.

From Dr. Thomas Perls, a researcher in geriatrics. “The Living to 100 Life Expectancy Calculator uses the most current and carefully researched medical and scientific data in order to estimate how old you will live to be. Most people score in their late eighties… how about you?”

From the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania


“Most of us tend to underestimate life spans. And that’s not surprising, says Eileen Sharkey, chairwoman of Sharkey, Howes & Javer, a financial planning firm in Denver. Many people, she notes, still have an image in their minds of (in particular) grandparents retiring – and dying relatively soon after. “We’re still fighting that problem,” she says – when, in fact, individuals age 85-plus are the fastest-growing population group in the country.”

From the Social Security Administration

Special tip here: Wait till age 70 if you can afford it to collect your benefits. Let’s say your benefit would be $1,000 a month at age 66, the official age for full benefits. But it you wait, there is a bonus of 8% for each year until age 70. You don’t have to keep working, you simply have to wait. At age 70, your benefit would be $1,320 a month. That bonus is for the rest of your life. You are ahead of the game financially if you make it to age 81 or 82.

Some Words of Wisdom from Mark Twain

When you are through fooling with these calculators, enjoy the wisdom of Mark Twain. Some excerpts from his 70th birthday speech to a dinner of family and friends:

“The seventieth birthday! It is the time of life when you arrive at a new and awful dignity; when you may throw aside the decent reserves which have oppressed you for a generation, and stand unafraid and unabashed upon your seven-terraced summit and look down and teach – unrebuked. You can tell the world how you got there. It is what they all do. I have been anxious to explain my own system this long time, and now at last I have the right.

“I have achieve my seventy years in the usual way: by sticking strictly to a scheme of life which would kill anybody else. It sounds like an exaggeration, but that is really the common rule for attaining old age. When we examine the programme of any of these garrulous old people we always find that the habits which have preserved them would have decayed us. I will offer here, as a sound maxim this: that we can’t reach old age by another man’s road.

He Goes to Bed Sometimes.

“We have no permanent habits until we are 40. Then they begin to harden, presently they petrify, then business begins. Since 40 I have been regular about going to bet and getting up – and that is one of the main things. I have made it a rule to go to bed when there wasn’t anybody left to sit up with; and I have made it a rule to get up when I had to. This has resulted in an unswerving regularity of irregularity.

His Careful Diet

“In the matter of diet – which is another main thing – I have been persistently strict in sticking to the things which didn’t agree with me until one or the other got the best of it myself. But last Spring I stopped frolicking with mince pie after midnight; up to then I had always believed it wasn’t loaded. For thirty years I have taken coffee and bread at 8 in the morning, and no bite nor sup till 7:30 in the evening. Eleven hours. That is all right for me. Headachy people would not reach 70 comfortably by that road. And I wish to urge upon you this – which I think is wisdom – that if you find you can’t make 70 by any but an uncomfortable road, don’t you go. When they take off the Pullman and retire you to the rancid smoker, put on your things, count your checks, and get out at the first way station where there’s a cemetery.

His Love of Exercise

“I have never taken any exercise, except sleeping and resting, and I never intend to take any. Exercise is loathsome. And it cannot be any benefit when you are tired; I was always tired.

Do Things Your Way

“I desire now to repeat and emphasize that maxim: We can’t reach old age by another man’s road. My habits protect my life, but they would assassinate you.

“I have lived a severely moral life. But it would be a mistake for other people to try that, or for me to recommend it. Very few would succeed: you have to have a perfectly colossal stock of morals; and you can’t get them on a margin. Morals are an acquirement – like music, like a foreign language, like piety, poker, paralysis – no man is born with them. I wasn’t myself. I started poor. I hadn’t a single moral. There is hardly a man in this house that is poorer than I was then. Yes, I started like that – the world before me, not a moral in the slot. Not even an insurance moral.”

A gallery of Twain quotes




Written by Bob Rosenblatt

Bob Rosenblatt is a researcher, writer and journalist who helps people looking for up-to-date answers and information on the perplexing issues at the intersection of finances and aging. Bob publishes a weekly report — please take a moment to subscribe in the upper right hand corner of this page.

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