Controlling Your Health Care Costs in Retirement

It’s no secret that health care becomes a bigger concern for most of us as we grow older. More ailments are likely to develop, which means more money spent to visit health professionals and buy medication. Even if you remain healthy through your later years, the costs of preventative care and preparing for potential unexpected health situations are rising.

Health-related expenses will likely be one of the biggest components of your retirement budget. You need to be prepared to pay for comprehensive insurance coverage and potential out-of-pocket costs for care. Here are three strategies to help you manage this critical expense in retirement.

Understand how Medicare works

The good news for Americans age 65 and older is that you qualify for Medicare. That makes increased dependence on health care services more affordable. At age 65, most people automatically qualify for Medicare Part A at no cost, which primarily provides coverage for hospital stays and skilled nursing care. Medicare Part B must be purchased (approximately $109 per month in 2017 for most retirees). Part B covers the costs of visiting a physician, but with some deductibles. Many people purchase additional coverage to use for out-of-pocket expenses, such as a Part D prescription drug plan or a Medicare Supplement policy.

With Medicare, timing is important. Signing up when you first qualify for coverage will keep costs at the lowest level. If you maintain insurance through your employer after turning 65, you can delay Medicare enrollment without risking late penalties.

If you retire prior to age 65, you will need to purchase insurance on the open market to cover health-related expenses until you become eligible for Medicare. Individual coverage tends to get more expensive as you grow older, so work the cost into your retirement budget. Some employers offer retiree health insurance as a benefit. Check with your human resources department to see if this option is available to you.

Allocate sufficient funds for health care costs

As you develop your retirement income strategy, make sure you have money set aside for health expenses that will be your responsibility. By one estimate, the average 66-year-old couple will need to tap more than half of their lifetime pre-tax Social Security benefits to pay for health care expenses throughout retirement. Most people will likely have to rely, in part, on their own savings to help offset some medical expenses.

Along with other retirement savings, you may want to establish a health savings account (HSA) during your working years. HSAs are designed to help build tax-advantaged savings to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses you incur during your working years. However, any leftover funds can be applied to health expenses later in life, including premiums for Medicare and long-term care insurance. Keep in mind that you must be enrolled in a high deductible health plan to open an HSA.

Focus on your own health

One way to potentially keep health care costs under control in retirement is to create or maintain a healthy lifestyle. Small changes you make today, such as eating right or prioritizing sleep, could reduce the likelihood that medical issues will impact you later in life. Being physically active may also benefit your finances in retirement – according to the American Heart Association, it could potentially help you save $500 a year today on health-related expenses.

How Sleep Affects Mental Health and Wellness

There is still much to be known about the link between mental health and sleep, but sleep being a basic foundation of well-being means it can have a certain degree of impact on your mental wellness and capability. A good night’s sleep – just like a healthful diet and lifestyle – is deemed crucial in fostering mental and emotional resilience, with chronic sleep issues feared to set the stage for negative mood and thinking, anxiety, and depression.

Think about it: you absorb new information every day of your life. With sleep, you are able to have the luxury of “down time” to process all these different bits and pieces of information, and then store it in your memory bank. This way they are all available when you need them. Sleep is therefore creative for improving not just concentration but also learning and creativity.

What happens to the mental aspect when you are faced with chronic sleeplessness or insomnia? Here are some of the potential adverse effects:

Your mind may slow down – Did you know that just one night of having inadequate sleep can massively impact your attention span, alertness, concentration, and ability to solve problems? Those who regularly find it hard to sleep could have impaired intelligence and mental development.
Your memory may be less optimal – While you sleep, the things you have learned and experienced during the day are thoughts to be organized or “filed” in your mind properly for future use and access. Now, if you are not getting enough sleep you would have trouble remembering what you go through today.
You may become depressed – Insomnia has been associated with the development of depression. According to some studies, people who regularly reported being unable to sleep were five times more likely to show depression symptoms. It remains unclear, again, where depression was the byproduct of sleeplessness or vice versa. Regardless of this, getting an optimal amount of sleep is considered important in treating this disorder.
You may become less smart – If you don’t get enough sleep, your performance in tasks that use the brain – such as tests or complex projects at work – may suffer. A full night’s sleep, the vital piece of the mental health puzzle that it is, organizes and makes connections within your mind to the information you obtained during the day. Without it, you may have a hard time retrieving those details for school or work the next day.
Your happiness levels may be affected – Sleep lets your brain have the time it needs to properly get into balance the chemicals and hormones affecting mental clarity, emotions, and mood – the bigger context that makes it possible for you to be relaxed, calm, and happy.

There are different ways you may achieve improved sleep. You need to tweak your sleep habits first, following a regular bedtime and waking time schedule and routine, as well as avoiding stimulants like blue light from gadgets and unnecessary noise. If you feel you are in need of greater intervention, it is best to talk to your doctor, sleep psychologist, or an expert who can get to the bottom of your sleeplessness and recommended effective natural sleep remedies.

Health Foods – Natural Supplements to Healthy Living

As we forge our way into the 21st century, we become ever more aware of the need for a healthy lifestyle in an increasingly hostile and toxic environment. We shun over processed and chemically swamped foods, smoking or drinking in excess. We exercise regularly and try to avoid stress and follow a healthy, balanced diet. And we feel all the better for it. For all this, we often lack one or more of the essential building blocks of overall good health and it is these deficiencies that health food supplements can address.

Why, you ask, would you need supplements when you eat right to start off with? Unfortunately, the truth is that most of the soil our foods are grown in is deficient in many of the important minerals needed for optimum health, so even organic foods are often nationally lacking. It is these gaps in the nutritional chain that can be filled by taking health food supplements.

With huge selections of manufacturer ranges available, the choice of which supplements to take is often daunting. A solid starting point is to shop for ingredients, rather than brands or specific supplements. A good place to start looking is with the so called Green Foods. Most suppliers carry dedicated green foods selections all rich in a variety of minerals, vitamins and amino acids, but more importantly all packed with chlorophyll.

Chlorophyll is the essential molecular component is responsible for life giving photosynthesis. Using the suns energy to synthesise carbohydrates from water and carbon dioxide, chlorophyll is the basis of all plant life. Chlorophyll also shares some surprising characteristics with haemoglobin found in red blood cells, the main difference being chlorophylls central magnesium atom in contrast to haemoglobins iron atom.

In the human bloodstream, chlorophyll magnesium bond is broken down and causes a spontaneous absorption of heavy metals. Chlorophyll also halts bacterial growth, removes drug deposits, neutralizes toxins (including radiation) and can even prevent bad breath and body odor. It promotes good intestinal flora, encourages enzyme growth that produces vitamins A, K and D, reduces high blood pressure and can reverse anemia. If that weren’t enough of an impressive resume chlorophyll also helps renew tissue and blood, boosts the immune system and can act as a mild diuretic. All things considered, chlorophyll is pretty powerful medicine. The following green food products are all chlorophyll rich.

Wheat Grass Juice
Alfalfa
Barley Grass
Spirulina
Chlorella
Wild Blue-Green Algae

Other health food supplements families worth looking at are:

Probiotics: These are bugs! Good bugs mind you, as they are essential to good gastrointestinal health. Micro-flora are destroyed by antibiotics, alcohol, stress, drug intake and high fat diets so its a good idea to take them as health food supplements.

Enzymes: Essential to almost all or bio-chemical processes, enzymes are also easily depleted by deficient diets and should be considered as a regular health food supplement.

Essential Fatty Acids: EFAs play an important role in cellular health and have been proven to be great cardio-vascular health boosters. Common sources of EFAs are cold water fish oil extracts and Flax Seed oil. Supplements rich in EFAs should be a part of any health food supplement regimen.

Apple Cider Vinegar: Although not strictly a health food supplement, ACV is considered to be one of natures most perfect foods. It is rich in potassium and calcium, phosphorus, iron, fluorine contains masses of micro nutrients. ACV should be strongly considered as a part of your health food supplement shopping list.

Antioxidants: Antioxidants destroy cell damaging free radicals and are essential to overall good health. Popular sources of antioxidants are coenzyme Q10, pyncnogenol and grape seed extract.

Garlic: Garlic can combat abdominal obstructions, parasites, worms, bad bacteria and increase circulation. It is also useful for general detoxification. Health food supplements containing garlic extracts should also be strongly considered.

So whether you are following a generally healthy diet or not, health food supplements can go a long way to bolstering your intake of essential nutrients. One just has to keep in mind that these are only supplements and can never replace a healthy diet.