What’s most important for a happy retirement? It is health, said the vast majority of retirees surveyed (81%) in a recent study, followed by financial security (58%), loving family and friends (36%) and having a purpose (20%). In fact, more than half the retirees surveyed stopped working earlier than expected, and the #1 reason for early retirement was a health problem.
As we age, health becomes an ever bigger determining factor in our lives: what we do, where we live, how we relate to our families. But most people don’t consider healthcare until they’re confronted with a major medical problem. Not here at LNWM. We consider healthcare options and projected costs to be a key aspect of retirement planning, and we are rather unique in this approach. It’s estimated that the majority of people with financial advisors are not including healthcare in their financial plans.
The results of a recent survey by Merrill Lynch/Age Wave bolster the argument that all financial plans should include healthcare budgeting:
The #1 health concern for people over 50 today is NOT cancer or heart disease. It is Alzheimer’s. That’s because Alzheimer’s affects not just individuals but also their entire families, and can require decades of caregiving and healthcare-related costs. About 18% of those in the 75 to 84 age bracket suffer from Alzheimer’s, but this increases to 45% for those over 85.
We have a shortage of doctors who specialize in geriatric care. Today, there is just 1 trained geriatrician for every 9,400 adults over age 65. On the other end of the spectrum, there is 1 pediatrician for every 1,200 kids under 15. Of the 159 medical schools surveyed in the U.S., only 14 have a full department in geriatrics.
Divorce is no longer uncommon after age 50, which can have a significant impact on retirement savings and healthcare plans. Overall, the percent of people who divorced per year in the U.S. among all ages was essentially unchanged between 1990 and 2010. However, during this time period, the divorce rate among those age 50+ almost doubled, from 8% in 1990 to 14% in 2010. It was j2% in 1960.
Just 21% of those 50 or older who have a financial advisor have had an in-depth discussion about healthcare. Here are at LNWM, we think it’s best to plan for the worst and hope for the best. So healthcare is a big part of our retirement planning process, including options for Medicare, long-term care insurance and housing, as well as budgeting for total out-of-pocket healthcare spending.