The Importance of Wellness Now and in RetirementSubmitted by Miller Financial Group | Red Oak Iowa Financial Advisor on March 24th, 2020
Most folks are aware that living healthy has many benefits. Especially for those who may soon be facing old age and the potential health problems that may come with it. With the recent Coronavirus pandemic, it has been older folks in poorer health who are being affected the most. To date, all deaths in the U.S. from Covid-19 have been elder adults who were already in poor health for one reason or another. Good health won't protect you from all potential harm and disease, but it is a step in the right direction for those edging toward retirement.
You can do all the retirement planning you need in order to secure total financial freedom in retirement. But without the physical health to enjoy it - you may miss out on the quality of life you envisioned. Wealth alone will not determine how much you will enjoy retirement. It’s a combination of health and wealth that will help you get the most out of your independence and freedom in retirement. Below are a few ways in which you can work to maintain or improve your overall wellness as you move into or enjoy your time in retirement.
What Is Wellness?
The idea of wellness is much more than physical health, as it is meant to encompass every aspect of your quality of life - mental health, social well-being and physical state. And while developing a retirement plan can help to make sure your financial wellness is covered, it’s up to you to take care of the rest.
Addressing Wellness in Retirement
In the following sections I have broken out the biggest areas of wellness down into three primary categories: mental health, social well-being and your physical state. Below are reasons why each area of wellness is important as you move toward and into retirement, and what you can do to maintain or improve on them.
This is one area that is unfortunately overlooked by many retirement planners. For many the temptation to turn your brain off during retirement can be a big one. Considering you may have spent decades problem solving for 40+ hours a week, the idea of relaxing and unwinding in front of the television or along a sandy shoreline can be extra appealing. But in order to stay mentally well and ward off cognitive decline, it’s important to incorporate mental exercise into your daily routine. Staying sharp and keeping an active mind in retirement may help you to stay healthier and enjoy your retirement longer.
So, what is one possible way of keeping your mental health in check? Consider starting a new job in retirement, even just a part-time position. According to the American Psychological Association, a 2017 study revealed that those who were working in retirement had levels of well-being in both health and overall satisfaction that were equal to those who were younger and not yet retired. And beyond satisfaction, working in retirement has proven to effectively ward off cognitive decline and disease. A study of nearly half a million retiree-aged participants showed that for every additional year worked, the risk of dementia was reduced by 3.2 percent.2
Isolation and loneliness are growing issues for Americans, especially in older adults. And entering into retirement is a transitional time in which one’s social well-being may become compromised. Leaving a job means leaving coworkers and friends you see every day. And, if you choose to move to a retirement destination, you may be leaving all other neighbors, community friends and even family behind.
Isolation can leave you feeling completely detached from your friends and family, both physically and psychologically. It’s something more than 8 million adults over the age of 50 experience, and prolonged isolation can have the same impact on your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.3
The good news is, there are plenty of ways to find social fulfillment in retirement. But it may require some effort and initiative on your part.
You’ve heard the phrase “use it or lose it,” and this saying definitely rings true when it comes to maintaining your physical wellness in retirement. Older adults are already at a bit of a disadvantage physically. As our bodies grow older, we’re facing physical changes such as slowing metabolisms, weakening immune systems and loss of muscle mass (to name a few). But just like your mental health, you may be tempted to enter a state of permanent relaxation in retirement. However, it’s important to take care of yourself physically. Doing so can help you fight off disease and prevent both physical and cognitive decline. Both of which can dramatically reduce your overall well-being.
When you put a special focus on maintaining your overall wellness in retirement, they can be some of the greatest years of your life. And while you should work with a professional to ensure your financial well-being is cared for, it’s up to you to make sure the rest is following suit as you head toward retirement. Staying healthy as you age has many benefits. With the situation that we are facing right now dealing with Coronavirus and other seasonal illnesses, it is more important than ever to stay as healthy as possible. We all want to have the ability to fight off disease and weather these types of storms that life throws at us.