Five steps to age-proof your
retirement healthcare costs
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[March 16, 2017]
By Chris Taylor
YORK (Reuters) - You might not think that flossing has much to do with
But stay with that thought for a minute.
Your everyday behaviors - from flossing to doing pushups to taking
supplements - have a very big effect on whether Future You will be
healthy and vibrant, or sickly and bedridden.
That, in turn, will impact whether you will be obligated to spend the
bulk of your retirement savings on surgeries and co-pays and
In other words, health and wealth are inextricably linked, according to
Jean Chatzky, financial expert for NBC's Today Show, who has just
released the book "AgeProof," co-written with Cleveland Clinic's chief
wellness officer, Dr. Michael Roizen.
"If your health isn't working for you, you are not going to be
financially sound," Chatzky says. "And if you are not financially
secure, your health is going to suffer."
Consider this number: $260,000. That is the estimated amount a
65-year-old couple retiring in 2016 will pay in out-of-pocket healthcare
costs over the course of their retirement, according to money managers
Most Americans have little idea that massive expenses like this are
headed their way. In Fidelity's recent "Retirement IQ" survey, people
were asked to guess about those retirement healthcare costs - and almost
a quarter of respondents were off by an astonishing $200,000 or more.
"The sad part of all this is that medical bills are the leading cause of
bankruptcy in the U.S.," says Roizen. "The good news is that if you can
stay healthy, you can avoid a lot of those expenses - and put that money
in retirement plans instead."
One example is flossing: Poor periodontal care is one of the body's
major sources of inflammation. Inflammation is one of the major factors
leading to heart disease. Stave off heart disease, and just think of how
that will improve not only your quality of life, but your wallet as
Of course, the sheer amount of health information can seem overwhelming
- and often contradictory. "AgeProof" attempts to boil down everything
we know about health and wealth into a series of actionable tips. A
* Know your stats.
You cannot gauge where you are, or where you are headed, without knowing
your numbers. In blood tests you are aiming for LDL (bad cholesterol)
and triglycerides of less than 100, and fasting glucose of less than
107. Blood pressure should be lower than 120/80, and ideally 115/75.
Keep your waist less than half your height.
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A couple (L) and a jogger pass by the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting
Pool before sunrise in Washington, September 24, 2013. REUTERS/Jason
Estimate your body's "Real Age"
You can crunch this number by analyzing 157 different lifestyle factors, a
discovery that might shock you into action (RealAge.com). If you smoke a pack of
cigarettes a day, for instance, the average 55-year-old is actually around 13
years "older" than his chronological age, Roizen says.
* Get up and move.
Aim for 10,000 steps a day. Get your heart rate up with cardio at least three
times a week, for at least 20 minutes each time. Boost bone strength and density
by jumping 20 times on hard surfaces, in both mornings and evenings. Work on
grip strength, which is a surprisingly accurate indicator of overall health
prospects. Begin a regimen of push-ups and curl-ups, which will boost core
strength and muscular endurance, and give you baseline stats that can be
improved over time.
eating junk food.
It is no secret that most American diets are a total disaster. So work toward a
Mediterranean-style diet rich on veggies, whole grains and olive oil. Cut back
on red meat, egg yolks and anything processed. Avoid simple sugars, syrups,
stripped carbs and saturated fats.
Have a glass of wine if you want, but stop there. For a sweet treat, try dark
chocolate. Have emergency snacks at the ready - like nuts, olives, carrots and
apples - instead of processed junk. Take needed supplements like magnesium,
folate, B6 and B12.
* Chill out.
There is zero doubt that stress ages you, and quickly. So face and deal with
whatever is stressing you out, instead of coping by overeating and overdrinking.
Meditation and deep breathing will calm you down and help with mental clarity.
Try to sleep for eight solid hours: Achieve that by setting room temperature at
67 degrees, dimming the lights, not eating or drinking before bedtime and
banishing all devices and screens from the bedroom. Power naps of 30 minutes or
less are OK during the day.
(Editing by Beth Pinsker and Dan Grebler)
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