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Healthy Aging: An Essential Element in a Happy Retirement

| June 19, 2019
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It’s not too late to add healthy aging to your retirement plans!

In discussions with my clients about their future, I am often struck by their fear of health issues that may cause them an early death. In fact, some of them refuse to discuss long-term issues in their lives because they don’t think that they will live that long!

Jack was a 62-year-old executive in a manufacturing firm who I got to know ten years ago when he became a client. Like many Americans, he had spent years working long hours, eating poorly and developing a lot of habits that left him in less than desirable physical health.

“I had developed my retirement plans and was ready to walk away from the job,” he told us. “One of the things I knew I needed to address was how I felt. I knew that I lacked the energy I needed to really enjoy life. I was concerned that my retirement wouldn’t last very long the way I was going.”

In consultation with his doctor, Jack looked to change a lot of the things that were holding him back. A change in his eating patterns combined with a regular walking routine helped him to drop 40 pounds over six months. He stopped smoking entirely and added vitamin supplements to his daily regimen. His energy returned and he progressed toward a healthy lifestyle that would support him through his retirement years.

Fortunately for Jack, research tells us that our bodies have an amazing ability to rebound if we make even small changes in how we treat ourselves.

“At any time you decide to improve your behavior and make lifestyle changes, they make a difference from that point on,” says Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. “Maybe not right away, but it’s like slamming on the brakes. You do need a certain skid distance.”

As Dr. Thomas Perls and Margery Silver state in the book Living to 100, “The goal is not to make everyone a super being who can swim the English Channel at 85. Rather, we want to help people gain more years of excellent health so they can do the things they enjoy or explore new things for the first time.”

Some of these facts are real eye-openers for my clients:

  • Women who add eight ounces of fish per week to their diet decrease their risk of stroke by half, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.
  • Eating more fruits and vegetables changes our body’s sensitivity to insulin within just two weeks, decreasing the likelihood of diabetes immediately. Vitamin C can also lower stroke risk.
  • Once you stop smoking, the carbon monoxide in your system declines right away. Within just five years, you have decreased your likelihood of having a smoking-related heart attack to the same level as someone who had never smoked.
  • A 40-year-old woman who has led a sedentary lifestyle and then starts a four-day-a-week half-hour walking routine can very quickly decrease her risk of a heart attack to the same level as someone else who has exercised all her life.

Mental and Physical Health

We have the ability to kill ourselves physically by killing ourselves mentally. It is our values that drive our actions. Our mental health will go a long way toward driving our physical health; if we decide that a key to successful aging will be feeling well, our minds can make that happen. On the other hand, if “being healthy” is not a value that we hold, then we are less likely to make fitness part of our daily routine.

While I view my role as your financial advisor and take it very seriously, I want to make sure that we get to work together for a long time! It is part of my conversation with clients to understand how they really feel about health issues and longevity. I want them to see the opportunities that come with retirement and hopefully encourage them to take advantage of them with good health. Since science tells us that healthy aging is as much attitude towards life, I hope you don’t mind if we “chat” about how excited you are for the future!

Joseph Falbo, CFP®, CRC®, AIF® is the founder and President of Falbo Wealth Management in Murray Hill, New Jersey. With over two decades of experience, his main goal is to help preserve and grow his clients’ wealth so that they can live their entire retirement with dignity and independence. FWM works with individuals, business owners, senior executives, retirees and their families who work toward financial success. Learn more about them at falbowealth.com.

Certified Retirement Counselor (CRC) conferred by InFRE®

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