Healthy Body, Healthy Pocketbook
Many people have a clear vision of what their ideal retirement looks like. Some desire vacation homes in tropical destinations, while others plan to spend quality time with their grandchildren and family. We know that many of these dreams will come with a price tag, but of all the activities in retirement that you're saving for, have you considered the costs associated with necessary services, like health care?
One study found that a man would need to save $130,000, and a woman would need to save $146,000, for health care during retirement if they wanted a 90% chance of being able to pay all their medical bills.Thankfully, your retirement health costs are not set in stone. Of course, you won’t have total control over your health in retirement, but there are things you can do to manage your health risks and the potential costs associated with them. Here are a few tips.1
Get informed - Medical expertise and advice are constantly changing when new research emerges. Keep yourself up to date on health care news, particularly with regard to issues that have affected you or your family. Ask your doctor to help you identify any areas of concern.
Develop (or maintain) a healthy lifestyle - This boils down to simple wisdom: eat healthily and exercise regularly. Limit fats and sugars and increase your intake of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. If you haven’t already, embark on a fitness program that you can stick with long term. If it’s been a while since you last exercised, consult with your doctor before you begin. Start slowly and gradually work up to your goals.
Relax - Stress can be detrimental to your health. Maintaining friendships, focusing on hobbies, and taking time to relax may help ensure good mental health. In fact, research shows that staying socially active in retirement is correlated with lower stress levels and a reduced risk of depression. It is also associated with a lowered incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.
Learn your numbers - Staying healthy means monitoring a few key numbers. You should know your blood pressure, cholesterol, and body mass index (BMI). In addition, your blood sugar level may indicate your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Your doctor can perform simple tests to help you identify these numbers and recognize any vulnerabilities you may have.
Get preventive care - Preventing a disease or illness can be much less expensive than treating one. As recommended by your doctor, take advantage of free or low-cost diabetes and heart disease screenings, mammograms, and vaccinations. And make sure to get your annual physical.
There is no way to guarantee you won’t have unexpected health care costs in retirement. But by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you may reduce possible health related expenses.
1. Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2017