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Financial Health
November 10, 2020

Navigating the challenges of living a longer life

A Wells Fargo partnership with the Longevity Project in collaboration with the Stanford Center on Longevity explores the many possibilities and challenges posed by increased longevity.

People are living approximately 78 years today, up from about 47 years 120 years ago, according to data collected by the Stanford Center on Longevity. While the notion of longer lives conjures endless possibilities, it also presents challenges. Health care, retirement planning, the future of work, and more are impacted by increased longevity. Noting this, Wells Fargo and the Longevity Project are bringing together leaders from business, government, and the social sector in anticipation of the many changes extended lives will require.

One important challenge is caregiving. “For many of us, it is the most important commitment,” said Ken Stern, host of the “When I’m 64” podcast, developed by the Stanford Center on Longevity in collaboration with the Longevity Project. Stern is the chair of the Longevity Project, a national bestselling author, and former CEO of National Public Radio.

Circle graph titled “The importance of planning” with the note “By a margin of 65% to 10%, Americans think that greater longevity will have a positive impact on ‘Me and My Family’ … circular depiction of the following info: 31% very positive, 34% somewhat positive, 15% don’t know, 10% no impact, 2% very negative, 7% somewhat negative
Source: "Planning for the 30+ Year Retirement" report (PDF) developed in collaboration with the Stanford Center on Longevity and Wells Fargo Wealth & Investment Management.

Stern will moderate the virtual discussion, “Caregiving in a Time of Change,” on Nov. 18 with Grace Whiting, CEO of the National Alliance for Caregiving; Sherri Snelling, founder and CEO of the Caregiving Club; and Ron Long, head of Wells Fargo's Aging Client Services. The call is the second in a three-part “Navigating Uncertainty” conference call series.

Approximately 53 million Americans are currently acting as caregivers to their loved ones — a figure that has grown more than 20% in the last five years, according to the Caregiving in the U.S. 2020 report shared by Whiting’s organization and AARP.

Caregiving is essentially a volunteer job, with individuals spending nearly 24 hours a week attending to the needs of older relatives, neighbors, and friends. And, according to the 2020 Caregiving report, one in five caregivers dedicate 41 hours a week to care provision, easily compared to the workload of a full-time job.

Many caregivers also face health and financial challenges of their own, and the work of caregiving can exacerbate those challenges.

“We see caregivers reporting that they don’t have enough time for self-care, and that (caregiving has) had some kind of financial impact,” Whiting said. “They are giving up savings, or taking on debt, or selling assets in order to cover the cost of care … And we suspect that those issues are only magnified by the pressures we're seeing during the pandemic.”

“Caregiving in a Time of Change” will discuss ways to help grapple with such challenges, by giving practical guidance for caregivers, noting trends in Alzheimer’s care, and exploring how businesses can adapt to the new caregiving needs presented by the pandemic.

“It is never too soon to start planning for the unexpected — but based on emerging trends, caregiving costs (for ourselves or our loved ones) are likely to affect a large majority of us at some point in our lives,” Long said.

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