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Room for Error

Dennis Friedman, 3:15 am ET

I’M SUFFERING FROM shoulder and foot pain. My doctor said I’ve done too many pushups and run too many miles. He scolded me, saying, “You’re 70 years old. You’re not 30 anymore.”

When I wake up in the morning, the pain radiating from my shoulder and foot makes me feel much older. My dentist also reminds me I’m not getting any younger. When examining my teeth, he noticed severe erosion along my gumline. He said, “If you were 36 years old, I would say let’s do something about it. But at your age, I don’t think it’ll be necessary.”

I’m not confident I’ll live a long life. But I believe I have more time ahead of me than I currently feel. How many more years? According to my retirement plan, I’ll live until age 100. That’s the age used to estimate how much I can spend annually.

A recent study by the Society of Actuaries found 28% of Americans age 50 and over underestimated their life expectancy by five years or more, with women more likely to underestimate their longevity than men. Your life expectancy is the foundation for your retirement planning. Underestimating longevity can cause you to run out of money later in life by not saving enough, retiring too early or spending too much in retirement. It could also cause financial stress.

I admit it, I may be overestimating my longevity. The probability of me living to 100 is quite low. But when planning for retirement, I’d rather err on the high side than watch my savings diminish in my later years. It’s also why I delayed my Social Security benefits until age 70.

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squirrel hammer
squirrel hammer
8 months ago

Dennis, I had good success rehabbing my aching shoulder using exercises from a book called “Bulletproof Your Shoulder”, by Jim Johnson, PT.

medhat
medhat
8 months ago

Dennis, I hope you’re being facetious about the comments from your doctor and dentist. As a physician, I won’t provide a diagnosis over the internet to someone I’ve never met, but I think it’s within bounds to suggest a second opinion for both a new doctor and dentist. Being “of a certain age” and afforded the benefits of hindsight, I’ve had the opportunity to encounter more than a few instances where someone received “blanket” advice that, due to their chronological age, they shouldn’t be doing this or that, only to look back several years later to realize they damn well could’ve done it. Everyone’s circumstances are unique, and I’m heartened in running races that there are more than a few septuagenarians (and likely above) that continue to pass me like I’m standing still!

OldITGuy
OldITGuy
8 months ago

Turning 68 this month, I’ve been experiencing similar physical epiphanies of late. Thus I really appreciated your sharing of your recent experiences in this article. I’ve been very active all my life and it’s taken some effort to adjust my thinking to align with my devolving physical capabilities. My goal is to find the right balance where I still work out hard enough to get the benefit without crossing the line and actually causing damage. At first, it was kind of depressing to contemplate, but of late I’ve realized that it gives me a guilt-free rationale for toning down the workouts a bit and orienting my workouts more towards what’s actually best for my body. At this point, I’m finding quite a bit of relief from any guilt about not working out out hard enough by realizing that I’m actually doing a better job focusing on building my health rather than over stressing my body.

Yeah, it’s a bit of a mind game but it helps me feel better about toning down my workouts. My wife and I have been taking this approach for a year or so and it seems to be working for us. When we do overdue something and suffer the resulting effect, we use it as an opportunity to critique what we did versus what we should have done. Like most things that are worth doing, it takes some effort and we’re getting better as we go but it seems to be working for us (although we’re still figuring it out). Best of luck recovering from your injuries and figuring out the right balance for yourself going forward!

Jerry Pinkard
Jerry Pinkard
8 months ago

Dennis,
As I can tell you at age 77, it does not get better. That does not mean life cannot be enjoyable nor should we accept the old age axioms people like to say about us. But we will have limitations we did not have 10 or 20 years ago. Thanks to modern medicine some things are fixable, others not so much. Best wishes in your aging journey.

R Quinn
R Quinn
8 months ago

From an age 78 perspective, I fully agree with you Dennis, hinge your bets either way. That’s one reason I see building an income stream using various vehicles i so important. I live off a pension and not accumulated assets, but I can imaging the stress of seeing a portfolio decline and not know how much longer it must last.

My wife is 82, one of her aunts died recently at 97, another two years ago at 98. My father and her mother died in their 70s, the direct result of smoking like trains. My mother died at age 87. My great, great grandfathered outlived his son by a decade, the son drank himself to death. Go figure, whose genes do we have?

The data show that as we age in retirement our spending levels off and declines as we are less active. That may be true, but so far that’s not my experience. Our spending on travel has declined, but that spending has been replaced with other things, some out of choice and other not so much. But at least for now, our spending still comes from income streams and not depleting accumulated assets. I hope I’m still able to say that at 97 … may be even on HumbleDollar.

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