Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Middle-aged people underestimate life span

UNPREPARED:Almost half the men polled underestimated how long they are likely to live, but close to 90 percent of the women did. More than half had no retirement funds

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

About 90 percent of women and 50 percent of men aged 40 and above in this nation underestimate their life expectancy, which could lead to poverty and lack of a support system in their later years, according to a telephone survey released yesterday by the Chinese-language magazine Business Today.

The poll, conducted by Shih Hsin University among 1,076 Taiwanese aged 40 and above, shows that men’s average expected lifespan is 76.91 years, 0.6 months longer than their average objective life expectancy, while women estimated their lifespan at 75.31 years — 7.7 years less than their average lifespan.

About 47 percent of the men polled miscalculate their life expectancy by one or more years, compared with 87.6 percent of the women who do so.

More than half of those polled said that they have yet to start saving for retirement, with 25.1 percent of respondents saying they have no financial management experience.

The poll found that 77.6 percent of respondents think Taiwan is not ready for the “gray tsunami,” even though the nation is expected to become an “aged society” in 2018.

When asked what most worries them about aging, about 61.7 percent of respondents said it was the need to be taken care of, followed by lack of money (19.6 percent) and their children’s inability to financially support them (5.7 percent).

About 31 percent said they would not be able to afford health carers if they ever had difficulty performing daily self-care tasks, while nearly 65 percent of respondents refused or were unable to estimate the number of years they might be dependent upon others for help in their old age.

Statistics compiled by the Executive Yuan show there were 2.69 million people aged 65 and above in the country last year, 460,000 of whom suffer from dementia and/or mobility difficulties.

Kuo Nai-fong (郭迺鋒), an associate professor of finance at Shih Hsin University, said the larger the discrepancy between one’s expected lifespan and the average objective life expectancy, the less prepared a person will be financially or psychologically for old age.

Business Today president Andy Liang (梁永煌) said the demand for long-term care has long exceeded the supply of qualified workers because the jobs are often demanding and underpaid.

“The country is in desperate need of diverse long-term care channels, which will never happen unless the government opens the industry’s door to for-profit care facilities,” Liang said.

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