Study: Life Expectancy Misconceptions Common Among The Elderly

How accurate of an idea do elderly individuals, generally, have regarding how long they are likely to be alive? A recent study indicates that the estimates that many seniors have in their head regarding their estimated life expectancy are off the mark.

Over 2,000 adults in the 64 and older age group were participants in this study. In the study, the participants were asked about what they thought their likelihood was of being alive for at least the next 10 years. The researchers then compared these self-made life expectancy estimates with what life expectancy estimates calculations based on objective factors gave for the participants.

The researchers found that only about half of the participants had an accurate self-estimate of their estimated life expectancy. Specifically, 55 percent of the participants gave a self-estimate which was close to the objectively calculated estimated life expectancy for them.

The research indicates that underestimation of life expectancy was a more common problem than overestimation of life expectancy when it came to inaccurate estimations. Of the study participants, 33 percent made a self-estimate that was substantially lower than the objective estimate. Meanwhile, only 12 percent of the participants made a self-estimate that was substantially higher than the objective estimate.

What do you think would help improve the accuracy of self-estimates of estimated life expectancy among the elderly?

Why does it matter how accurate an elderly individual's conception of how long they are likely to live is? It matters because an elderly individual's views on their life expectancy can impact the decisions they make.

For one, it could impact their medical decision-making. Inaccurate life expectancy estimates could cause an elderly individual to make different health-related decisions (such as treatment, medication and lifestyle decisions) than they would have otherwise made.

It could also impact a senior's decisions when it comes to long-term care cost planning. Having a far-off-the-mark estimate of one's life expectancy could cause a person to choose a care planning strategy that is not well-suited for the care needs they are actually likely to have. Such a misalignment could endanger a care planning strategy's ability to achieve the goals it is aimed at.

This last point underscores the importance of having the right information when setting up a long-term care planning strategy. Attorneys can help individuals with understanding what things it is important to know when making long-term care planning decisions.

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