When we think of retirement planning, we think of 401(k)s, IRAs and tax deferrals. If we are really prudent in our planning, we think about how we are going to spend our time in retirement and where we are going to live. These are the things that we should be focusing on when we plan for our retirement; however, there is one non-financial aspect of retirement planning that is often ignored-health. Health care costs are the biggest costs in retirement, but yet many people fail to plan for their health. As of 2016, a retired married couple, aged 65, will spend $260,000 over the course of their retirement in health care costs. Who knows what those numbers will be 5 or 10 years down the road? Not planning for health care costs could bankrupt a retiree. Planning for medical costs should be part of everyone’s retirement plan.
While many advisors have conversations with their clients about the benefits of Health Savings Accounts and ways to save money on prescription drugs, they rarely have conversations about preventing health issues from coming up in the first place. Prevention is the key and it is prevention that can sharply decrease health care costs in retirement. So how do we prevent disease? There are many factors that come into play: eating healthy, exercising, giving up smoking, taking part in stress reduction activities, and drinking plenty of water. While these are all important and should be utilized, I believe that it is diet that will have the biggest impact.
Not only does eating a healthy and balanced diet prevent weight gain , and lower the risk for diet-related illness, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and depression, but it will also allow a person to live a better quality of life, so that they can enjoy their time in retirement. So what do I mean by a balanced diet? Ultimately, it’s as simple as eating more fruits, vegetables, fiber-rich foods and fresh products, and fewer fatty, sugary, salty and processed foods. The old adage “You are what you eat” has never been more true. We can choose to eat foods that are going to promote wellness, or those that promote sickness. If we choose to eat foods that promote sickness, then our health care costs in retirement will certainly be affected by it. So would you rather pay $260,000 and have your quality of life dramatically altered, or practice living a healthy lifestyle and pay a lot less? There are so many decisions to be made in retirement. Help your clients make the right decisions when it comes to their health and save them a lot of money in the long run. This will allow them to enjoy the retirement that they have always dreamed of.