Monday, February 21, 2011

Sucessful Retirees Need Three Kinds Of Health

                      Be healthy. A television anchor I once listened to used this simple but sagacious                         sign off to his program. Health is a condition we should all strive for but for retirees health is an even bigger factor as age increases the chances of  health problems and a short-circuiting of  retirement’s pleasures. There are three types of health essential to any retirement: physical, financial, and mental/spiritual.

                                         Physical Health

                        Are you feeling ill? Well, if you are, hopefully that’s  not because you’re reading this blog, and ,of course hopefully you’re not feeling ill at all, but absence of illness at the moment does not, unfortunately, mean one is healthy. As I pointed out in another blog;; in order to be healthy one has to know at least three numbers. The first number is blood pressure and you want to keep the top number below 140 and the bottom number below 90. For maximum health we should try to keep the top number below 120. The second number is cholesterol. The key numbers here are 240 and 200. If your cholesterol level reaches 240 you are considered to have high cholesterol, and below 200 is considered best for maximum health. The third number is blood sugar. The trenchant number here is 100. Normal blood sugar is considered below 100 and a number between 101 and 125 is considered pre diabetes . So what can we do about these “darn” numbers?

                      Well we could just sit in the front yard with a glass of ice tea and contemplate those numbers. Though I myself enjoy occasionally drinking ice tea, sitting in the yard and contemplating; that alone is not likely to lower any of those numbers. The answer is basically pretty simple: eat right  get the proper exercise and keep our stress level under control. So what does that mean “eat right’ ; well it means about what our Mom told us all those years ago “eat your fruits and vegetables”. Nutritionists who study such things tell us we should eat between 5-8 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. I know, I know, that’s easier said than done but we could at least try to eat some fruits and vegetables a day . Of course eating right also means less sugar, salt and fat, so a daily lunch of a Big Mac, French fries, and a large coke is probably not so great an idea though ,since I’m a great believer in “good ole Aristotle’s” idea of moderation, I think an occasional splurge is probably not too sinful.

                     Exercise is another must, which means put that glass of ice tea down and do something . The exercise you choose should be something you enjoy so you’ll make it a habit. That might include riding your bike, swimming, running or walking. Though I myself am a long time jogger( over 50 years now) as I get older I become more convinced of the simple advantages of walking. One great way to motivate ourselves is to buy a pedometer, which is under 5 dollars and will add up your number of steps each day. Take 9,000 steps and you’ll have those numbers heading in the direction you want.

                                                       Financial Health

                       So just what is financial health? Financial health for retirees means we have enough resources to live comfortably, meaning we can choose whether our vacation will be a cruise  to the Caribbean or a flight to  Disney World rather to choose between food or medical care. Those who write on finances often say retirement funds should come from social security, a private pension if available from your work and investments. For retiring Texas teachers that means our TRS annuities, 403 b investments and social security for those eligible for it. If you are considering retirement but aren’t sure yet, my advise is to set up an appointment with TRS in Austin and make sure  exactly how much you will receive from you TRS pension. This will allow you to know exactly how much you will need to take in the future from you 403 B , savings and part time work, if necessary, or desired.

                       In addition to your annuity, investing your money wisely is another necessity for financial health. Let me repeat again I am most assuredly no financial advisor but I do have a suggestion. Learn as much as you can about investing even if you later decide to hire a financial advisor. I have a further unsolicited piece of advise ; my greatest teacher on investing is a website called ,a group of successful investors who follow the philosophy of the founder of Vanguard, John Bogle. That philosophy includes asset allocation  investing in low cost index funds and avoiding attempts to beat the market. Visit the site, read for yourself and I think you’ll find yourself much better informed even if you don’t accept the Bogleheads advice on the best route to reach financial health.

                                                          Mental/Spiritual Health

                            Mental health is not just the absence of mental illness but the ability to adapt to life’s ups and downs, find some balance in our life and managing our emotions. One of the advantages for we retirees is that we have lived a long time and have had a lot of practice at all those skills. Speaking of managing emotions, we are really talking about what the writer Daniel Goleman calls emotional intelligence, the ability to understand our emotions ( Am I feeling gluttonous or do I really need that second piece of cheesecake) and managing those emotions so they help us meet our goals whether physical, financial or mental health.

Mans Search For Meaning. Many of us find that meaning best through religion, but there are other ways of reaching spiritual health including volunteering in such activities as Habitat For Humanity or Wounded Warriors, or some passionate hobby whether gardening or golf , or best a combination of all these.

                                                   Your Turn

                                  You are now invited, heck I’ll even beg you to join in on the conversation and leave a comment below.

                            1. How do you handle the three types of health

                            2.  Do you have another type of health  other than those mentioned that you would like to comment on.

                            3. Any comment, suggestion even criticism ( Be nice though) you would like to leave                  

                                        How To Leave Your Comments

                       1. Scroll to the bottom of this page and click on comments

                       2.  A new page will appear for your comments
                            Click on Publish your comment


Debbie said...

Handling the three types of health mentioned can be a bit of a challenge, particularly if you attempt to tackle all three simultaneously. Lately I have spent most of my energy on Physical Health and Mental Health but Financial Health will become more important if I decide to retire. It doesn't help that anything to do with numbers makes my head hurt.

Leo Emery said...

Spot on advice.

It has been said a million times, without your health you have nothing.

If you do not take care of your physical and mental health, your financial health is not much of an issue, because you may not be around long enough to take care of that.

Heed the advice take car of your health.

dancilhoney said...

My husband and I are retired, this was a wonderful refresher! lifestyle retirement villages western australia

rich said...


Thanks for visiting my blog and I,m glad you appreciated the advice. I hope you,ll visit again.


rich said...


Thanks for visiting the blog. So how is the retired life in Australia? Hopefully you both have good health in all three areas.


Steph said...

Great post!

Adam said...

Starting the day upright and breathing is always a positive first step. In my opinion, mental health is the most important of the three. Having something to look forward to doing each day, a reason to get out of bed, makes all the difference. When you're feeling negative, there's a greater tendency to eat bad "comfort" food, and shy away from social, or other physical activities.
P.s. I enjoyed reading your post.

rich said...


I'm glad you enjoyed the blog and hope you'll check in again. Are you a retiree?


rich said...


I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I think most of those who study aging would agree with you that attitude is a very important component of aging gracefully Yes, having a reason to get up every morning is vital. I hope you'll visit my blog again.


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