How can I optimize my health in retirement?

Carleton McHenry, CFP®
McHenry Capital, LLC

Achieving a Healthy retirement

Leading Chronic Health Problems, Age 50+

  • Although today's retirees are healthier than prior generations, later life brings higher risks of chronic diseases and disabilities.

  • Health problems can be a financial double threat. They can not only be expensive, but they can also force an unexpected early retirement. Health problems are the top reason for early retirement.1

Source: AARP, Chronic Condition Prevalence in the 50+ Population, 2009

What steps can I take to improve my health?
Be knowledgeable

Regular check-ups can identify health problems early and increase chances for successful treatment. Home health monitoring equipment, such as glucose and blood pressure monitors, can help track important health metrics, and health apps and wearable technology can help you track nutrition and fitness activities. 

Have a positive attitude

Many research studies show that people who feel happy live longer and healthier lives. For example, a recent study conducted by Johns Hopkins found that positive people are 13 percent less likely to have a heart attack or other coronary event. Similarly, a University of Kansas study found that smiling reduces heart rate and blood pressure during stressful situations.2

Maintain friendships and social connections

Social activity and engagement can be very important to health in later life. Studies show that low levels of social interaction is as unhealthy as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day, being an alcoholic, or never exercising, and it’s twice as bad for your health as obesity.3

Stay physically active

Increasing your physical activity will help you maintain a healthy weight, stay flexible, regulate your blood pressure, and generally help you feel better and more vital.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle

Eating better can help you lose weight, reduce your risk of developing cancer, and feel better. Up to 80% of cases of premature heart disease and stroke can be prevented by maintaining a healthier lifestyle.4

Get good sleep

Quality sleep is very important to our health. The amount of sleep we get affects growth and stress hormones, our immune system, appetite, breathing, blood pressure and cardiovascular health.5

How can staying healthy help me be more financially secure?

Staying healthy not only can help you have a happier, more fulfilling retirement, but can also help you reduce one of the major expenses in retirement. It is estimated that the average couple will need $285,000 in today's dollars for medical expenses in retirement. And this does not include long-term care costs. In fact, measured as a percent of household budget, retirees spend nearly three times more on health care expenses as working households.6 

I would like to learn more about...

Strategies to optimize my health throughout retirement

Preparing for retirement health care expenses

Medicare and other health insurance options

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1.  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, “What Causes Workers to Retire Before They Plan”, 2015

2. Johns Hopkins Medicine, 2019

3. Inc Magazine, "Loneliness Is as Lethal As Smoking 15 Cigarettes Per Day. Here's What You Can Do About It", 2019

4. Medical News Today, "What are the benefits of eating healthier?", 2018

5. NIH, "The benefits of sleep", 2013

6. Fidelity Benefits Consulting estimate; 2019