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Friday, October 29, 2010

Is Your Investment in Health Ready for Your Retirement?

Regardless of the amount of money you may have squirreled away for retirement your real comfort and security is going to come from your investment in your health - not from you money.

The reason for this is simple - a single health event - for example being diagnosed with a degenerative disease - will wipe out your savings one way or another.  Whether it occurs through having to pay for in-home care, special services or expensive medicines, or paying for nursing home care - your nest egg is doomed.

Couple this with the nonsensical side effects this has on your spouse, e.g., selling the family home or divorcing to meet various state financial requirements for nursing home or other care, and you have a real problem.

And this is only the tip of the iceberg.
  • Will you be able to even get into a reasonable, safe nursing home, one where there aren't continuous fines for violations and "elderly abuse"?  What will your spouse do?
  • Who will look after the plethora of care issues if you need, for example, a surgery?
  • How will you ensure that treatment options among doctors and across medications don't conflict?
I speak from experience on these matters.  I've watched the effect that retirement health had on my father who passed away from Alzheimer's a number of years ago.  I've watched the effect retirement health had on my mom, who is still alive.  I've watched what it does to my mom's neighbors in her "over 55" apartment.

I personally don't want to live in this way - regardless of whether I can afford to.

What way is that? You ask.

Trapped in an endless circle of uncoordinated and dangerous medical treatments for problems which are, by and large, avoidable or caused by medical treatments - particularly drugs.  Agonizing day in and out about whether to take "big pharma" medications that have "death" printed on the side effect sheet.  Being trundled into and out of various medication options willy-nilly.  Watching friends and relatives become addicted to pain killers.  Watching my neighbors be rolled off in ambulances on a daily basis - only to be literally lost because HIPPA does not allow anyone who's not on some list to even know where they are.

Watching Medicare and Medicaid literally become lifestyles - your life planned around doctor visits, medication problems, pain pills, and what treatment options I can and can not have.  What to do about things that are "not covered".  Waiting weeks to be seen by a doctor.  Watching the disparity of Medicaid and Medicare.  Listening to doctors who treat you as a problem because you are old instead of treating your medical problem.

No matter your actual monetary savings you might have these kinds of issues will dominate your retirement.

The only way around these problems, and they are significant, is to find ways to remain healthy as long as you can as you age.  To take charge of this mess.  To control it before it controls you.

Because, as I see it , once you end up in the hospital as an elderly patient your fate is sealed.  The the event horizon on a black hole you will pass over it and never be heard from or seen again.

And, what's even more interesting to me is that no one talks about this aspect of retirement...  The internet is virtually silent.

Oh, there's plenty of talk about which Prescription Coverage option to take.  How to get Supplemental Coverage, and all the rest.

Plenty of "rah, rah" AARP crap.  But nothing serious.  Nothing that address the root cause.

Like sheep to slaughter everyone accepts that this is their fate.

And, like the Emperor with No Clothes, no one is asking if accepting this fate is the right thing to do.

Well, I don't accept this.  Any of it.

I don't want the "nanny Gub'mnt" to take care of me.  The mere thought of it makes me ill.  Look at this article if you need proof - deciding whether Medicare should consider the cost of "tissues" (for crying I suppose) in the cost of psychiatric care.

The first step in solving any problem to to understand the problem and I think the first, and most egregious problem here, is the whole notion of modern retirement.

What is it? Where did it come from?

Personally both of my grandfathers worked factory jobs until retirement.  One in a metal/plating factory, one in an automotive factory.  Retirement to these guys meant no longer doing the daily grind and being able to sit home and enjoy baseball or auto racing.

This was the old 1930's retirement model.  With maybe some Social security and Medicare there to offer support (it was still new then).

Today we pine over this model, even idealize it, but it does not work or fit?  My grandfathers did not have the life span we have today.  Even then I do not think either was really happy sitting around "doing nothing" - which, at least for men, can translate into death very quickly.

A quick check of my mom's "over 55" apartment bears this out - there are very few men.  Most husbands are dead save a few who, to me, appear to either like some type of physical activity or have something to do - like take care of a spouse.

So what am I going to do?

Certainly not fall into the Medicare lifestyle. And I've already started with my plan.

So far:

I learned about proper nutrition and the impact it can have on my health.

I've started this blog to talk about me, what I learn, what I do, why I do it.

I've started talking to others about this topic - asking what will they do and why.

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