Retirement can be an exciting new chapter in your life, especially if you enjoy good health. Of course, staying healthy enables you to keep active – but it can also benefit you financially and emotionally.
By maintaining good health, you may be able to:
- Help protect your savings from health care expenses – Even with Medicare, between premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, you can expect to pay a considerable amount of money to cover your health care costs in retirement – about $4,500 to $6,500 per year for one person, according to data compiled and analyzed by Medicare, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Edward Jones. While some of these costs will be unavoidable, others could potentially be reduced significantly if you were to remain in good health for much of your retirement.
- Possibly reduce your need for long-term care – While you’ll want to have a strategy in place should you have a long-term care need (as many of those costs aren’t covered by Medicare), staying as healthy as possible could help you remain independent longer and may reduce the likelihood or duration you’ll need assistance.
- Enhance your retirement spending abilities – During retirement, your spending habits may assume even greater importance than when you were working. You’ll have to carefully balance your spending against your various sources of income, such as your investment portfolio and your Social Security payments. If you can stay healthy and possibly reduce your health care costs, you can potentially improve your cash flow, thereby giving yourself more flexibility in your spending.
Physical fitness boosts emotional and mental health
Improving your physical health can also provide some powerful mental and emotional health benefits. What steps can you take to make these connections? Consider the following suggestions:
- Maintain social connections. To keep a sense of well-being during your retirement years, it’s important to stay engaged with family and friends and take part in activities you enjoy, whether that’s playing pickleball, taking your grandchildren to the park, volunteering or participating in community events. Do whatever you can to avoid social isolation, which can negatively affect both your physical and mental health.
- Get adequate sleep. Adequate sleep is just as essential for older people as it is for younger ones. A 2021 Harvard Medical School study found that individuals who slept fewer than five hours per night were twice as likely to develop dementia compared to those who slept six to eight hours per night.
- Exercise consistently. Regular exercise can give you more energy, improve your balance and help prevent and counteract some medical conditions, such as heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes and depression. Exercise can even strengthen your brain function and possibly reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Overall, exercise can simply make you feel better and help you maintain a positive attitude toward life. Before embarking on any new exercise program, it’s a good idea to consult with your physician.
- Follow a healthy diet. Try to eat a variety of foods to get all the nutrients you need.
- Reduce stress. Stress can cause high blood pressure, insomnia, digestive problems and other conditions – not to mention emotional symptoms such as frustration, agitation and moodiness. It’s important to address the root problems of stress – but you can also help yourself through activities such as meditation and yoga. And exercise is also a great stress fighter.
- Challenge yourself mentally. Contrary to popular perceptions, a decline in mental acuity is not inevitable as we age. You can help yourself maintain and improve your cognitive skills through a variety of activities, such as games and word puzzles or by following creative pursuits.
Never too late to start
The best part is you don’t have to worry that you’ve waited too long to take action for your health. In fact, 93% of retirees agree that it’s never too late to improve your health, according to an Edward Jones/Age Wave Four Pillars of the New Retirement study.
So, start taking the steps necessary to maintain and improve your physical and mental health. And then enjoy the benefits, both financially and emotionally, of staying in good shape.
If you have questions on how you can fit health care costs into your overall financial strategy, consult with your financial advisor.