Since June is Men’s Health Awareness Month, it’s a good time to consider some ways to enjoy an active, healthy retirement.
Although retirement is often painted as stress-free—no boss, no deadlines, no rush-hour commute—there are also downsides.
Research has found that working is generally beneficial for health and cognitive function. Many people enjoy the sense of purpose and the socialization opportunities having a job provides; the latter has even been linked to better cognitive function.
On the other hand, a 2005 study by the University of Oregon showed that people who retired at age 66 were 11% less likely to die from any cause than those who retired at age 65—even when the researchers accounted for the baseline health of the study’s participants.
Another study, co-authored by researchers from Cornell University and the University of Melbourne showed a 2% increase in mortality of U.S. men who retire the month they turn 62. Men who were single or divorced were particularly vulnerable to higher mortality. The same study noted a much weaker link between increased mortality in women and early retirement. But there’s good news:
You don’t have to keep working to reap the positive benefits.
Here are some ideas to maintain good health in retirement and avoid the risks:
- Stay physically active. Popular exercise ideas for older adults include walking, pickleball, swimming, yoga and cycling. The most-common mistake seniors make when taking up new sports is overdoing it, so make sure to learn and keep good form, and don’t try to take on too much, too soon.
- Eat well. Research has shown that the Mediterranean Diet, which emphasizes fruits, veggies, fish, olive oil and nuts, tends to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and dementia. Most doctors also recommend limiting processed foods and red meat, which are thought to increase inflammation.
- Volunteer and put your years of life and professional experience to good use. Here are some ideas on how to find your perfect volunteer opportunity.
- Go back to school. Ever wanted to learn a new skill, but just couldn’t find the time while you were working? Now that you’ve retired, why not explore classes through community centers and local high-schools and universities? Online learning opportunities also abound, offering everything from second languages to computer skills—and many of them cost nothing.
- Strengthen relationships. Use some of your free time to babysit grandchildren, visit old friends, explore new places with your spouse or partner, or start a book or dinner club with other retired friends. Keeping strong ties with family and friends provides many health benefits, such as immune-system fortification and stress reduction.
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This is also a great time to call your healthcare providers and set up some screenings.
Here are some of the most important ones for older men.
Prostate: If you’re a Medicare beneficiary, you are entitled to receive a screening once every 12 months, beginning the day after your 50th birthday. There are two components of prostate screening. The first is a digital rectal exam. For this, you will pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for the exam and for your doctor’s services related to the exam. The Part B deductible applies. In an outpatient setting, you pay a copayment. The second component is the PSA blood test. You won’t pay anything for this. However, if your doctor doesn’t accept assignment, you may have to pay an additional fee for the doctor’s services.
Colon: Colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of cancer-related deaths among Americans. If you are a Medicare beneficiary, the program will cover one colorectal screening every 10 years (unless you are considered a high-risk case; if you are, then Medicare will cover screenings every two years). If a polyp is detected during your screening, you may have to cover 20% of the Medicare-approved amount of your doctor’s bill and a copayment in a hospital setting. The deductible for Medicare Part B does not apply.
Cardiovascular: Heart disease is the leading cause of death for Americans. Medicare covers cardiovascular screenings (which can help detect issues that may lead to stroke or heart attack) once every five years. And as long as your doctor accepts assignment, you won’t pay anything for them.
Tobacco addiction: Medicare covers the cost of up to 8 sessions of tobacco-use and smoking cessation counseling in a 12-month period.
Mental health: More than two million Americans over age 65 suffer from depression—sometimes due to chronic illnesses that tend to occur more often later in life, or after the death of a spouse or partner. As a Medicare beneficiary, you are entitled to one depression screening by your primary care provider per year. Medicare Part B also pays towards psychotherapy, group counseling, family counseling, psychiatric evaluations, and partial hospitalizations.
Need help with healthcare planning?
You’re probably used to getting insurance from your employer or through the healthcare marketplace. Medicare works differently and if you have a complicated medical situation, you’ll want to have a plan in place for the transition to Medicare, any additional costs that may arise in the process, and unexpected medical expenses that you’ll incur after you retire.
Healthcare planning is a big part of retirement planning and best done with the help of a professional financial advisor. Click here to browse our advisor directory to find one in your area or get started with a no-cost, no-obligation review of your financial plan.