Retirement health checklist: It’s about more than just money

Retirement planning is about so much more than just money.

Retirement health checklist: It’s about more than just money

Ask anyone paving a path towards retirement or those closer to retirement age and some will say that money is a major concern. But retirement planning is about so much more than just money.

Health should top your list of priorities – if you have your priorities straight. After all, you can’t spend (or save) money without your health. While your health may be good right now, a very important part of retirement planning should also be about your future health needs. Having access to healthcare that caters to each stage of retirement should play a part in where you live out your later years.

If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to choose an ideal retirement postcode, one that offers a combination of community, lifestyle and facilities.

“Some people move to a place where they spent vacations and have great memories,” says gerontologist Dr Suzanne Salamon.

“But often these places are remote and not close to medical care. People have to realise that, as they age, there may be medical problems they didn’t anticipate. Being close to a good hospital can make the difference between a good or bad outcome.”

When planning retirement, especially your living situation, geriatrician Dr Helen Chen suggests following ‘The Five Ms’ – an idea conceived by researcher Mary Tinetti, of Yale University.

The Five Ms are:

How will you stay intellectually active and manage your mood in retirement? Will you find enough mental stimulation?

Maintaining mental activity is important in keeping you cognitively healthy, which will help stave off dementia, depression, delirium and memory problems.

Will you be able to get to key places (such as a grocery store), even if you can’t drive yourself? Is there good reliable public transport nearby? Or will you be close enough to someone who can transport you in case you can’t do it yourself? If you have to drive everywhere, how will you manage that?

Also, exercising and maintaining the ability to balance and walk properly will help prevent falls and other injuries, reduce your risk of other health issues and keep you fit and healthy. Will you be in a position to do this on a regular basis?

Will you be socially connected in retirement? Will you be close to friends and family? If you decide to move away from your current community, will you be able to break in socially to your new community? Will you still have contact with your friends and family?

It is easy to fall off the map in retirement, so maintaining healthy social connections will go a long way to keeping you in a happy, content state of mind which will have a flow-on effect for your general health.

What will be your purpose in later life? Is it all just wine and roses? Will you focus on your favourite hobby, the garden or ticking off your travel wishlist? Or will you spend some of your retirement giving a little something back to your community or those in need?

One of the earliest casualties of retirement is losing the sense of purpose you felt in your working years. Having purpose contributes to mental wellbeing. Find out what matters most to you in retirement and put your energy into finding and maintaining some sense of purpose.

Do you have a third-stage health plan? Will you be able to afford and attend regular health checks? What happens if your partner falls ill or if you’re on your own and dealing with your health issues?

It’s as difficult to achieve this ‘M” as it is to say. Multicomplexity is planning for the logistics and management of myriad health problems associated with ageing, including appointments, medications, tests and regular screenings. It also requires assessing your living conditions in accordance with age, health conditions and social concerns.

In short, these are the health factors you need to focus on when planning retirement living:

  • medical services
  • non-profit health services, such as meal delivery
  • transportation services
  • affordable housing options
  • recreation opportunities
  • volunteering opportunities
  • private-duty services (such as a companion or certified nursing assistant).

And, as many of you will know by now, home-owning retirees will benefit more than renting retirees, especially age pensioners, so housing affordability should be a priority.

“If it’s not affordable, you’ll cut back on other necessities like food and healthcare. Affordability problems only get worse as you get older,” said Jennifer Molinsky, senior researcher with Harvard’s Joint Centre for Housing Studies.

Finally, if you’re planning to buy a new house for retirement, a bit of planning at the purchasing stage will help you age at home for longer.

“Stairs can be a problem, so it can be beneficial to have all rooms on one floor. Even having steps to reach the front door can cause problems later,” says Dr Salamon

What are your tips for a healthy retirement? What do you do that might cost a little extra now but could save you money in the future?

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    Ted Wards
    18th Jul 2019
    Excellent advice but the whole of retirement needs to be looked at. I mean for a lot of people it will be another 30 to 40 years of living, that's a long time to drift around without purpose. Luckily there are now lifestyle planners who look at every area of your life and help you plan for an outstanding retirement. We get you in touch with a team and assist you look at how you want to live this stage. retirement is not the end, but the beginning of what can be the most rewarding part of your life, where you no longer dance to the beat of anyone's drum!

    18th Jul 2019
    this is an excellent article - I struggle with my injuries and good health must come first - although money helps a lot
    18th Jul 2019
    All good advice and ideas but moving to more appropriate accommodation takes a lot of money. It's very difficult to get everything you need. I love where I live but don't know how I will get on in the future with my steep driveway. Also my doctor, who is extremely good, is some distance away. While I can still drive that's OK but when I can no longer drive I will need to take two buses and walk some distance to see her.
    18th Jul 2019
    Hardworker Look in to council and see what they offer. Through your GP you might be able to access help for home help or just transport which you pay for. Good value. I currently get help for medical transport via a volunteer service but you do have to pay a membership fee. Or there is community buses or Red Cross. They take people to medical appointments I am not what is available in your area but here there are options. You just have to look into your local council and see what they offer
    18th Jul 2019
    When we moved to our present abode we chose no stairs and good accessibility throughout plus access to handy medical requirements. If you are over 50 and buying your next home you need to look ahead not at your abilities in your fifties or even your sixties but beyond at risks for the elderly and the above lost is excellent.
    18th Jul 2019
    4 years into my retirement and, touch wood, I have no major health issues and can enjoy my retirement. I hate Melbourne’s dreary winters and spend 6 months in Thailand where I walk everywhere and swim every day thus keeping fit. Living abroad has its challenges which keeps the mind active. Life here is very sociable too. I enjoy returning home in summer for Christmas and New Year, catching up with friends and family and getting back on the golf courses, the live bands and the parties. Retirement is what we dreamt of whilst working and you have to give it your best shot. I know many who have grown bored and returned to work and I don’t quite understand that.
    18th Jul 2019
    Very good advice. Having regular health checks is essential. You do need to look ahead for the unexpected People owning their own homes are better off than those of who rent More choices. I choose to have health insurance cover.. Good ides is to put money aside for the medical expenses that may crop up. Have had many health issues so have money saved separately has been a help to me
    18th Jul 2019
    KB these are good points. Fortunate to have good health but who knows the future. How much on top of private health do you think is needed?
    18th Jul 2019
    I agree with the private health cover also. We like to choose our doctors and hospitals which is not possible in the public system. There is often a long waiting list for so called elective surgery but people have died waiting for that.

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