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Your Life Expectancy: Factors to Consider

While you can never know for certain how long you’ll live, knowing the answers to some basic questions can help you live your best life.
Since none of us know how long we will live, the next best thing is being informed about how to make smart health and lifestyle choices. The American Academy of Actuaries and the Society of Actuaries developed a longevity calculator tool to give you a bit of perspective on your life expectancy. The tool asks only four questions to provide a foundation for understanding your longevity.
Answering those four questions is a good start but there are many factors that affect how long you may live. Some factors you can control, such as what you choose to eat, your activity level and how often you check in with your general practitioner. But some things, such as genetics, are out of your control. As you think about your overall health, the following list gives you an idea of what factors to assess.

  • Height and weight
  • Annual Physicals
  • Medication for any chronic conditions
  • Cholesterol level
  • A family history of heart disease, cancer or diabetes
  • Exercise frequency
  • Consumption of caffeinated beverages
  • Cigarette usage
  • Alcohol usage
  • Consumption of sweets and processed foods
  • Servings of fresh vegetables
  • Air quality
  • Coping with stress
  • Sleeping habits
  • Formal education
  • Hours a week at work
  • Hours a week relaxing
  • Marital status
  • Forming and maintaining new relationships or friendships
  • Thoughts on aging –  optimistic or pessimistic?
  • Feelings of depression, alienation or aloneness
  • Feeling mentally challenged, professionally and recreationally

Most people who eat well, get plenty of exercise and sleep, have an active social life and maintain a healthy work-life balance can expect to live a long life. Meanwhile, those who smoke and drink excessively, eat poorly and are prone to depression and inactivity are less likely to make it into their golden years. To get a better sense of your life expectancy, share your answers with a medical professional. You can then use the information you learned from these tools and talking with your doctor to help guide your decisions and planning regarding your financial future.
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