People save for a variety of things in retirement. Some dream of vacation homes in tropical destinations, others plan to spend time with grandchildren and family. Of all the activities you are saving for in retirement, did you know that healthcare may have the biggest price tag? One study found that a man would need to save $124,000 and a woman would need to save $140,000 for health care in retirement if they want a 90% chance of being able to pay all their future medical bills.1
Thankfully, your retirement health costs are not set in stone. Of course, you won't have total control over your health in retirement, but there are things you can do to manage your health risks and potential costs. Here are a few tips.
- Get informed. Medical expertise and advice are constantly changing. Keep yourself up-to-date on healthcare news, particularly with regard to issues that have affected you or those related to you. Ask your doctor to help you identify areas of particular concern.
- Develop (or maintain) a healthy lifestyle. This boils down to simple wisdom: eat healthy, exercise regularly. Limit fats and sugars and increase your intake of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. If you haven't already, embark on an exercise program you can stick with long term. If it's been a while since you last exercised, consult with your doctor before you begin. Start slowly and work up to your goals.
- Relax. Stress can be detrimental to your health. Maintaining friendships, focusing on hobbies, and taking time to relax may help ensure good mental health. In fact, research shows that staying socially active in retirement can alleviate stress and reduce the risk of depression. It may also aid in the prevention of Alzheimer's disease.
- Learn your numbers. Staying healthy means monitoring a few key numbers. You should know your blood pressure, cholesterol, and body mass index. Your blood sugar level indicates your risk for diabetes. Your doctor can perform simple tests to help you identify these numbers and recognize any vulnerability you may have.
- Get preventative care. Preventing a disease or illness can be much less expensive (and painful) than treating one. As recommended by your doctor, take advantage of free or low-cost diabetes and heart disease screenings, mammograms, and vaccinations. And make sure to get your annual physical.
There is no way to guarantee you won't have unexpected healthcare costs in retirement. But maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help you reduce possible health-related expenses, not to mention avoid spending precious time in the recovery room.
1 Employee Benefit Research Institute
Tip: Healthy Targets. Generally speaking, cholesterol should be 200mg/dL or lower. And a good blood pressure level is 120/80 mmHg or less.
Fast Fact: No Need to Save? According to the EBRI, Medicare only covers 60% of health care expenses for its beneficiaries. — Employee Benefit Research Institute