A few days ago I attended another seminar about finances in retirement. The presenter challenged everyone to bulletproof their finances with the usual tools including up-to-date wills, estate plans, powers of attorney, and tax strategies. The presenter caught my attention with a discussion of health as a key aspect of wealth in retirement. The presenter urged everyone to rank biological health at equal importance to financial wealth.
The topics of health and wealth are closely tied. Both need good planning because we want to be around to enjoy whatever financial wealth we have accumulated. Just as a recession or a stock market crash or runaway inflation can affect financial plans, a change in personal health status — or the health status of a spouse/partner — can force a huge change in retirement plans.
Biological health involves trying to manage events that affect health. Just as regular contributions to a build a portfolio of assets add up over time, so does regular attention to health pay a dividend. Small daily actions contribute to biological health just as regular contributions help to build a retirement nest egg or save for a special vacation. With finances and with health, small actions compound over time.
Obviously, surprises happen even to people who have tried to take the best care of biological health. A cardiovascular incident, a cancer diagnosis, a catastrophic fall — none of us can predict when — or if– something like this occurs. Fortunately, most of us are spared such dire occurrences. Even with a health shock, it’s often easier to fight disease when th.e body is in prime
Prevention is Better than Cure
The presentation last week reminded me of a similar presentation entitled ‘What it really means to invest in the future’ that I attended a few years ago at the Markham Public Library. If you watch this video you may see the back of my head as I was seated in the aisle when filming happened!
Sandy Cardy was a financial planner who received a cancer diagnosis in the prime of her life. She used this malignancy as a wake-up call to research how she could help her body to heal. She gives three recommendations:
- Take care not to expose yourself unnecessarily to harmful toxins — air pollution, gases given off from household cleaners, cosmetics, pesticides, processed foods, and plastics. Livers and kidneys break down toxins; these organs are easily over-taxed.
Eat powerhouse foods that promote health — lots of green vegetables including broccoli and kale, fatty fish such as salmon, green tea for the polyphenols, and turmeric for it’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant components.
Keep a healing team around you — health advisors are just as important as financial advisors; you need health advisors who you trust and whose advice is based on science.
Based on my own research about health, I would add two recommendations to those made by Cardy:
- Sleep enough — sleep is key to a healthy immune system.
Exercise –the old adage to ‘use it or lose it’ comes to mind. Even short periods of regular exercise produce physical benefits including improved cardiovascular health, weight loss, and strong bones. Mental health benefits include improved mood, higher energy levels, better self-esteem, and more self-confidence as well as decreased anxiety.
Wealth is more than financial assets. My definition of real retirement wealth is having sound biological health to provide a secure foundation of well-being and just a bit more money than I need for basic needs and wants. Obviously, many things in terms of wealth are beyond our control but let’s do what is possible for good personal results!
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