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Healthy Aging, Healthy Retirement: 3 Key Strategies to Save Money and Live Longer

Retirement Health

As you approach retirement, one of your biggest concerns is naturally going to be your health. As we get older, our bodies and minds gradually deteriorate, accumulating a host of different health complications. This creates various new challenges.

To make matters worse, the costs associated with healthcare and medical intervention will increase. Insurance premiums will rise, and you’ll have more injuries and ailments to deal with. You may be forced to take more prescription medications or undergo more types of treatments.

Aging in a healthier way means enjoying a healthier retirement. It means living longer, increasing the quality of your life, and saving money. And it usually means being happier. Unfortunately, the dynamics of improving your health and simultaneously improving your approach to healthcare can be complicated and overwhelming.

How to Save Money and Live Longer

In this guide, we’ve attempted to simplify matters by consolidating information into three key strategies. Together, these strategies can help you save money, live longer, and take better control of your health in retirement.

1. Clean Up Your Lifestyle, Now

There are certain health risks you have no control over and certain complications that can blindside you, especially if left undetected until retirement. But for most people, most health risks are easily identifiable and easy to avoid. With a handful of lifestyle changes, you can dramatically decrease your risks for the most common health ailments in the United States and increase your quality of life at the same time.

Identify risks and hazards.

Start by identifying potential risks and hazards associated with your lifestyle. For example, do you currently spend lots of time outside without wearing sunscreen? If so, you could be at increased risk for skin cancer. Do you work in an environment that is somewhat polluted by particulate matter in the air? If so, without PPE, you could be at an increased risk of developing lung cancer or another respiratory problem. Obviously, not all risks and hazards are knowable or observable, but you should attempt to control and protect yourself against any hazards you can identify.

Get exercise every day.

Ideally starting long before you retire, start getting exercise every day. Physical exercise is one of the best ways to preserve your health well into retirement, as it allows you to control your weight, improve your strength and flexibility, and even boost your immune system and mental health. The best exercise routines include components of cardiovascular exercise as well as resistance exercise. However, the exact exercises you perform are up to you; many people choose exercises they genuinely enjoy, so they’re motivated to do them more often. You also need to choose something at the appropriate level of intensity. You should be genuinely challenged by exercise, without overwhelming yourself or putting yourself in harm’s way.

Consume more fruits, vegetables, and water.

You can also improve your diet by consuming more fruits, vegetables, and water. Fruits and vegetables tend to be very nutritious, with abundant vitamins and minerals that your body needs. They also tend to be relatively low in calories, allowing you to better maintain your weight. Drinking more water can help you avoid more problematic beverages, while simultaneously keeping you hydrated and minimizing health risks in various areas.

Get plenty of sleep.

People often underestimate how important sleep is for your overall health. Sleep is good for your body and mind, allowing you to recover at the end of each day and recuperate from various ailments. Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. If you struggle with this, there are many strategies that can help you. Try investing in a better mattress, adjusting the temperature of your sleeping environment, tinkering with lighting and sound, using an air purifier, and going to bed earlier.

Eliminate harmful substances from your diet.

If you haven’t already, now is the time to eliminate any harmful substances from your regular diet or daily habits. Tobacco products and alcohol are generally bad for you. Ideally, you’ll eliminate these substances from your diet, but at the very least, you should reduce how often you use them. If you’re especially sensitive to substances like caffeine, consider eliminating those as well.

Get the right amount of sunshine.

Being outside and absorbing sunlight is generally good for us. It’s an opportunity to get fresh air, produce vitamin D, and improve our mood. Of course, excessive and direct sunlight exposure can also be dangerous, so it’s important to strike a balance. Get plenty of time outside, but be sure to wear sunscreen, use UV protective sunglasses, and protect yourself from the harmful effects of the sun.

Pay attention to how you feel.

The natural course of aging sometimes makes it hard to identify symptoms of growing, spreading diseases. For example, consider the symptoms of mesothelioma. Many people suffering from mesothelioma have no idea that this disease is developing inside of them. The initial symptoms of the disease are mild symptoms like fatigue, stomach aches, and light coughing. Accordingly, it’s important to get in tune with your body while it’s still healthy. Notice how you feel. Notice how often you cough or feel fatigued on a regular basis. This way, you’ll be able to notice aberrations over time.

Don’t neglect your mental health.

Finally, don’t forget about your mental health. Taking good care of your physical health is important, but so is prioritizing your intellectual, emotional, and social wellbeing. Make sure you have at least a few hobbies to maintain your interest and mentally challenge yourself. Try to build and maintain relationships with a variety of family members and friends. The more intellectually active you are, and the more consistently you socialize with others, the better.

2. Save More Money Than You Think You’ll Need for Retirement Health Expenses

The next group of strategies are focused on helping you save more money than you think you’ll need. There are many reasons to pursue this:

Healthcare is getting more expensive.

For starters, healthcare is getting more expensive, and there are no indications that this trend is going to abate anytime soon. If you’re currently 50 years old and you plan on retiring by 65, you cannot plan for today’s expenses in the future. Instead, you have to think 15, 20, and 25 years ahead, if not further. If healthcare costs continue to rise, how will you be able to cover them?

People often underestimate health expenses.

The average American couple estimates the total cost of healthcare in retirement to be around $41,000. However, it’s likely closer to $315,000. There are many reasons why people underestimate healthcare expenses. For example, a lack of transparency in the medical industry combined with limited familiarity of personal health risks makes most people unqualified to estimate their own healthcare expenses in the future.

Emergency and unplanned expenses can wreck your budget.

As any financial expert can tell you, emergency and unplanned expenses can wreck your budget and your entire financial strategy, especially if you don’t have an emergency fund in place. Building up some extra savings gives you an insulating layer that can keep your finances intact even in extreme situations.

Insurance plan flexibility pays off.

If your savings are robust enough, you’ll have more flexibility in the insurance plans you choose for yourself. For example, if you can afford a relatively high unplanned expense due to your significant cash savings, you can afford to increase your deductible and benefit from lower premiums.

If you’re having trouble saving enough money for your future healthcare costs, these tactics can help you:

Consider delaying retirement.

You may not like the idea of working for a few more years, especially if you’ve been longing for retirement for a while, but sometimes, the best move truly is delaying retirement. Every year you continue to work is going to add more money to your pool of savings and reduce your expenses at least slightly. This is especially valuable if you currently have health insurance through your employer.

Increase your income.

During your working years, consider increasing your income – or consider adding new sources of income to your retirement years. That could mean working to achieve a higher position, taking on a side gig, or even starting an entirely new career. Obviously, you may be limited in terms of physical capacity or skill set, but it’s never too late to learn a new skill.

Maximize your retirement account contributions.

Pay attention to your retirement account contribution limits and try to max them out. Retirement accounts are specifically designed to incentivize saving and investment, offering tax reductions and other benefits to account holders. If you want to save as much money as possible and grow your wealth as much as possible before retirement, it’s imperative to take full advantage of these.

Cut other expenses.

This is also a good opportunity to cut any other expenses that could be interfering with your personal finances. For example, is it possible for you to move to a smaller house or a cheaper area of the city? Are there luxuries or entertainment expenses that you could cut in favor of further saving?

Pay down your debts.

Debt can be ridiculously expensive, especially if you have debts associated with high interest rates. Once you’ve taken care of your immediate needs and you’ve maxed out your retirement account contributions, focus on paying down your debts.

Retune your investment planning.

Depending on your circumstances, this could also be an opportunity to retune your investment planning. Are you in a position to tolerate more risk in pursuit of potentially higher growth rates? Are there certain assets or positions you can redistribute so you can better support your future financial goals? Unfortunately, we can’t provide universally applicable advice here, since every person’s financial goals and current position will be unique.

3. Attend All Your Recommended Checkups and Screenings

Finally, make sure you attend all your recommended checkups and screenings. Proactive healthcare allows you to catch problems before they develop fully, maximizing your positive health outcomes and saving you money in the time leading up to retirement. The more diligent you are, and the more consistently you attend appointments with trained professionals, the better.

In line with this:

Do your own research.

Work to understand your own health, your personal risks, and the strategies you’re employing to improve your health–well before retirement. This means coming to every appointment prepared and leaving every appointment with new ideas to research. Obviously, you’ll still need to trust your medical professionals, but supplementary information can help you make smarter decisions and maintain an even healthier lifestyle.

Build rapport with your care providers.

Stronger doctor-patient relationships can often lead to better outcomes, and for several reasons. Your doctors will know you better, and will be able to recommend better strategies to you. Simultaneously, you’ll feel more comfortable and more open in your appointments. Do whatever you can to build consistent rapport with your care providers.

Ask lots of questions.

During your appointments, be sure to ask lots of questions. Your medical professionals will be more than happy to answer them. This is your opportunity to gain new information and clarify potential misconceptions, so take advantage of it.

Follow instructions.

And, of course, always follow the instructions provided by your caregivers as precisely as you can. Sometimes, even slight deviations from instructions provided to you can have negative outcomes.

Hopefully, you’re reading this article while you’re still relatively young, with plenty of time to adjust your retirement planning and accumulate savings for your inevitable retirement. But even if you’re already years into your retirement, much of this advice can still be helpful to your health. Do whatever you can to prioritize and preserve your health, and plan around better healthcare for yourself in the future and during retirement.

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We uphold a strict editorial policy that focuses on factual accuracy, relevance, and impartiality. Our content, created by leading finance and industry experts, is reviewed by a team of seasoned editors to ensure compliance with the highest standards in reporting and publishing.

Managing Editor
Deanna Ritchie is a managing editor at Due. She has a degree in English Literature. She has written 2000+ articles on getting out of debt and mastering your finances. She has edited over 60,000 articles in her life. She has a passion for helping writers inspire others through their words. Deanna has also been an editor at Entrepreneur Magazine and ReadWrite.

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