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5 Tips for a Healthy Retirement

“All the money in the world can’t buy back good health.” – Reba McEntire

Health is important to everyone, and retirees are no exception.  According to a 2014 study, 81% of retirees believe that the most important ingredient for a happy retirement is good health.  This outranked having loving family and friends, trying new things, and even financial security.

With this in mind, here are HCM’s 5 tips for a healthy retirement.      

1. Healthy body

There’s no avoiding it.   Part of a healthy retirement is maintaining a healthy body.  This includes regular exercise, a healthy diet, and maintaining a good weight.  The benefits of these activities are well-documented: According to The American Journal of Medicinethe positive health effects of maintaining a normal weight, routinely exercising, and not smoking delayed disability by almost a decade and significantly improved survival rates.  

Working on your health doesn’t need to be dull…. you can make it fun! Anything that gets you moving promotes good health.  Try playing with your grandkids, walking the dog around the neighborhood, or planting a garden.  

If you stay physically active you are likely to stay independent and happy for longer.  You’ll feel stronger, confident, and more connected to your friends and family.  

2. Healthy mind

Your brain is like a muscle: if you don’t exercise it, it will start to atrophy.  Frequent cognitive activity has been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive impairment, and decline in cognitive function.  Keep your brain active by reading, playing board games, learning a musical instruments or even dancing.  Another way to exercise your mind is to use your brain in a way you normally wouldn’t.   For example, you could learn a new skill or a new language, take up a new hobby, or join an adult education class.   These are all great ways to keep your mind healthy and active well into your retirement.  

3. Find your purpose

Everyone needs a purpose in life, and it can be difficult to transition from a meaningful career to retirement and maintain that sense of purpose.  Many retired people feel lost after retirement, spending hours in front of the television.  Getting away from the TV is good for you: too much television is connected with increased rates of depression and anxiety.  More generally, possessing a high sense of purpose in life is associated with a reduced risk for all causes of mortality and cardiovascular events.

One common way to find a sense of purpose is to volunteer in your community.  The social experience of doing something good for others can lower blood pressure and increase your lifespan.

4. Socialize

Once someone retires, their “new job” should be working to create and maintain friendships.   According to the National Institute on Aging, maintaining relationships and socializing decreases depression and blood pressure, and leads to a more active lifestyle.  It may even decrease the odds of acquiring rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer.  

Many people have their social connections through their job, so retiring can lead to a weakening or even loss of those social connections.

Book clubs, writing clubs, game clubs, and more are great ways to get out and socialize. These can help you meet new people and improve the quality of your life.  Try Zumba, join the local YMCA, or visit a senior center to see what activities they offer. The options are endless.

5. Plan accordingly  

According to a Merrill Lynch study, “Health care expenses are the biggest financial worry of many retirees. Half of retirees say they’re concerned they won’t have enough money to cover out-of-pocket health-related expenses.”  

Few retirees fully anticipate the total potential cost of healthcare.  Almost half of retirees believe Medicare will cover nearly all their health care costs, which is sadly not the case.  Also, too few retired people anticipate the need for long-term care.   Additionally, it is important to continually monitor and improve your health insurance by doing things like re-evaluating your supplemental Medicare coverage annually.

As always, HCM Wealth Advisors reminds you that comprehensive retirement planning goes beyond your portfolio, and we are here to help.  If you have questions about staying healthy in retirement, or you feel that someone you care about would benefit HCM’s Retirement Roadmap™ Process, please let us know.  We would be happy to arrange the conversation.  

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