Health: Among the 10 Elements of Retirement Success
It's sometimes said that health is real wealth. In our experience, being physically, mentally and financially fit is one of the 10 Elements of Retirement Success. This article seeks to help you assess your approach to health in retirement and set some meaningful goals.
We view health as one of the foundational elements to life satisfaction in retirement. It not only determines how long we live, but also can have a direct effect on our quality of life. At the same time, direct health expenses as well as the indirect cost of lost earnings, caregiving, etc., often can represent some of the greatest costs in retirement.
When we think of health in terms of “retiring well,” we focus on a concept introduced by Dr. Ken Dychtwald, the Founder and CEO of AgeWave, called “healthspan.” Health has traditionally focused on lifespan, or how long you live. Dr. Dychtwald promotes healthspan, which is how long people live in “full health.” In our experience, retirees hope to stay healthy long enough to enjoy the active lifestyle they want and to avoid cognitive decline in the process.
Most of the clients we work with don’t care to live to 100—they want to live well while they are here. Here are three of the main areas that, in our experience, can contribute to a healthier and happier retirement.
Physical wellness in retirement
This area covers the impact of nutrition, exercise and your overall health management (including medical practices and alternatives). Poor health can have a dramatic impact on your wealth, your overall financial plan and your level of life satisfaction. However, we believe the purpose of wealth is to improve your life.
How can your wealth be used to help improve your physical wellness? Maybe you could spend some money on a new gym or club membership, or the physical therapy you have been needing but putting off. You might want to schedule weekly massages or finally order that Peloton bike! All these things cost money and it’s easy to rationalize them away as being too expensive. However, how expensive are the alternatives of poor health and a low healthspan?
Mental health in retirement
In recent years, it has become much more accepted to discuss mental health, its role in our overall wellness and the need for professional guidance along the way. For many retirees, it is extremely stressful to face a number of major life transitions at once as they step into retirement. Change often creates stress. Change can also take us from a good state of mind (often called flow) and place us in a poor state of mind (often called struggle). Neglecting struggles with our mental health can lead to significant physical challenges.
Health economics in retirement
As demonstrated, we believe money and health are bound to one another. Unfortunately, the economics of paying for your health are complicated, especially as you move from the structure of group benefits into the dizzying world of Medicare and supplemental insurance. This area covers the funding of your health journey including health insurance, Medicare, budgeting, etc.
How are you doing in terms of funding your health journey including health insurance, Medicare, budgeting and the like? Do you know your options? Do you feel confident that your needs are being met? If not, this is an area you may wish to discuss with your wealth advisor to make sure it’s incorporated into your financial plan.
Here’s a quick exercise that you may find helpful:
- Write down your current satisfaction with your health on a scale of 1 to 10
- Now write down what you would you like that score to be one year from now
- Finally, write down the top three things you can do to raise your score
Investing in your health and well-being can pay dividends throughout the rest of your life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Charlie Jordan, CPA, CFP, CeFT
Charlie is a Partner, Wealth Advisor in our Atlanta office. Previously, he led the Retiring Well Practice Management group at legacy firm Brightworth. Charlie focuses on helping clients think differently about retirement, integrating the technical and personal sides of money. Charlie is a CPA, CFP® practitioner and Certified Financial Transitionist (CeFT). He is a graduate of the University of Florida and received a Master in Accountancy from Kennesaw State University.
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