Odds of living to 100 are rising fast

Hoard's Dairyman: 

Odds of living to 100 are rising fast

Date: 
Fri, 01/11/2013

It’s a trend that has implications for your family and your business.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

Which are there more of in the U.S. today – dairy farms or people who are at least 100 years old?

According to the Census Bureau, there were 53,364 people in the U.S. in 2010 who were at least 100 years old (called centenarians) versus 53,132 licensed dairies.

That so many Americans have already reached triple digits is a reflection of the amazing ways that medicine, science and technology have turned the world upside down. But like the old Bachman Turner Overdrive song says, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.” The Census Bureau projects that by 2050 there will be 600,000 centenarians in the U.S.

The odds of living to 100 are better than you may think – good enough, in fact, that they deserve serious consideration and perhaps some planning.

According to the Department for Work and Pensions in Great Britain, a person who is 55 years old today has a 1-in-8 chance of living to 100, and a 20-year-old has almost a 1-in-4 chance. For babies today the odds are better than 1-in-4, and for girl babies the odds are better than 1-in-3. (Females are more likely to make it to 100 than males are at every age.)

Retiring at 65 may be part of your life plan, but what about your kids? Transitioning a dairy to the next generation has never been easy; centenarian lifespans are going to complicate things tremendously. What happens, for instance, if dairy owners decide to keep working until 75, 80 or older? Living to 100 suggests that is exactly what will happen, especially if technology keeps reducing the need for strenuous physical labor.

Century-long lifespans create a high possibility of dairies having three or even four generations actively involved in the business. Will it be big enough to support all of them? Will egos and personalities mesh in harmony? Will living to 100 turn out to be a joy or a headache? It’s something to think about now.

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