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charting retirement

Running out of money is a common worry in retirement. Another is the possibility of dementia, a condition that includes memory loss, lapses in judgment and reasoning, and changes in behaviour or mood.

Only a tiny fraction of the Canadian population is likely to encounter dementia before age 70 but its prevalence increases rapidly with age. Nearly 25 per cent of Canadians aged 85 and over suffer from dementia. Moreover, comparable U.S. statistics show that the incidence of dementia – i.e. the probability of contracting dementia in any given year – more than doubles between ages 85 and 95.

Research suggests that people can take steps to prevent or at least reduce the risk. Possible steps include pursuing a healthier lifestyle, controlling vascular risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, being socially engaged and participating in mentally stimulating activities.

People should also consider being financially prepared in case the preventative measures prove unsuccessful. Financial readiness includes having enough money on hand for eventual long-term care and a plan to transfer the management of your financial affairs to someone you trust.

Frederick Vettese is former Chief Actuary of Morneau Shepell and author of the PERC retirement calculator (

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