February 20, 2012

Your Retirement & Your Health: A Bankrupt Romance?

Poor health leading up to and during retirement can destroy a family’s financial plan.

As a financial advisor, I’ve been working with families since 2000 to help them structure their retirement plans. One observation I’ve made over the years is that regardless of the steps people take to plan for their retirement, the one thing that they often neglect is their own health.

People can make plans to save money, invest in strategies to protect their family, and establish estate plans, but if they aren’t taking care of their health, they could literally jeopardize everything.

Don’t spend a lifetime preparing to retire only to find yourself wasting your hard-earned money on healthcare. Poor planning and declining health will destroy your retirement savings faster than anything.

You have the opportunity to choose a life full of energy and vitality, allowing for travel and time with family and loved ones. You can also choose a life leading to isolation and dependency filled with doctor visits, prescriptions, and care facilities. The choice is yours. Which road will you travel?

Let me provide some statistics for you from Kiplinger’s 2011 Annual Report:

The odds of having a house fire with $3,400 in damage is1 in 200.

The odds of having a car accident with $3,000 in damage is 1 in 14.

The odds of being 65 and older and spending 2.5 years in a nursing home are 1 in 3.

Despite these odds, people rarely go without protecting their assets. Long-term care insurance is something that should be considered for most financial plans. It is a policy designed to pay the costs of care whether one is in a skilled nursing facility, adult day care or is receiving care at home.

But while long-term care is an important coverage to discuss with your financial advisor, more important than long-term care insurance is protecting your health. Unfortunately, health is the number one asset that gets neglected.

Long-Term Care.

The average stay at a care facility costs about $200-$250 a day and runs about $73,000 to $91,000 a year. Kiplinger’s Annual Report on Long-Term Care shows that an average of 47% of those who enter a nursing home will return home within a year.

Assuming you’re lucky enough to be one of those 47%, what will $73,000 less in your retirement or savings do to you and your family’s plan? Do you have enough in savings to cover this expense?  What if you’re in the majority who are in a facility for much longer who have an average stay of close to 2.5 years? Will you have more than $200,000 available to cover the costs without destroying your financial plans?

These figures are expected to increase as space becomes limited due to a higher demand for service as more baby boomers retire. This demand will grow due to both an aging population and ailments brought on by a dramatic rise in obesity.

If proper long-term care planning isn’t in place, and one has to rely upon Medicaid, you can expect to give up everything but your home, one car, and about $1,700 in your checking or savings account. While services and treatment will be made available, you can expect to financially bankrupt your surviving spouse. This will also mean that there will be no inheritance to pass along to your children or grandchildren.

Insurance is an important part of any good financial plan. With that being said, there’s no better insurance than that of maintaining good health.

Obesity, the leading cause of disability and disease.

Photo: © Wolfberry

Obesity is the leading cause of disability and severe life threatening conditions. According to the CDC, the following are health consequences brought on by being overweight or obese.

Obesity Fact Sheet

Download and print this fact sheet »

Obesity increases the risk of a number of other conditions, including the following:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)
  • High blood pressure
  • Lipid disorders (for example, high total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides)
  • Stroke
  • Liver disease
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
  • Osteoarthritis (a degeneration of cartilage and its underlying bone within a joint)
  • Gynecological problems (abnormal periods, infertility)

Maintaining a healthy weight, consuming a nutritious diet and staying physically active are few of the most important things you can do to maintain good health. If you are interested in getting your health back on track; here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Establish SMART goals and share them. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time. Identify what it is you want to accomplish and by when. Create a plan of action, or work with someone to help you structure one, where you have various milestones and means by which to measure your success. Don’t forget to celebrate the small successes along the way. Share your goals with friends and family so that they can support you in your efforts.

Photo: getzomt.blogspot.com

Eat less C.R.A.P. and eat more F.O.O.DConsume fewer carbonated drinks, refined sugars, artificial sweeteners and colors, and processed foods. Consume more fruits, organic lean protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. Drink more water; at least eight cups a day.

Get active. If you’re not active now, always consult a physician first. Start by going on daily walks, periodically increasing your distance and pace. Or, if you are able, try running, biking, or swimming. Swimming is an excellent exercise that has virtually no impact on the body. Take a fitness or yoga class to get the blood flowing and the muscles stretched out. Try to exercise with a partner to make it more enjoyable and help you stay committed to your program.


Resources. Identify individuals, books, websites, and other tools to further support you in your journey.  Use them to help propel your goals forward and share your newfound knowledge with others. Sharing your new information helps you to reinforce what you’ve learned and retain the information better. Sharing with others has another benefit–you could become the resource and encouragement to help others achieve healthy lives.


What actions will you take to ensure that your retirement is filled with energy and vitality, or will you allow poor health to potentially destroy your retirement plans? Do you have a support system in place to help you accomplish your health-related goals?

Do you know where to get information to find natural remedies for ailments and conditions? Do you know if your current diet provides you with enough nutrition to remain healthy? What will you do to get active?

I encourage you not to act like many of clients who plan and protect all their assets except their most valuable one: their health.

Invest in your health now so you can enjoy your retirement later.





[Photos: getzomt.blogspot.com /  www.dreamstime.com]



Editor: Andrea B.


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