Five Things a Woman Should Know When Planning for a Healthy Retirement

older woman

With age comes wisdom and there are certainly things you should know about your health and health care options as you plan for your retirement. Here are five things to keep in mind:

Don’t wait to find out about health problems until it’s too late.

Focusing on prevention is the key to leading a longer, healthier life. Take advantage of the free preventive screenings offered under the Affordable Care Act. Important cancer screenings, like those for colorectal cancer, are covered without a co-pay, even if you haven’t met your yearly deductible. Preventive care catches problems early, when they’re easiest to treat. Find out what preventive services are covered under the health care law, and then call and schedule an appointment.

Get some exercise at least three times per week.

It doesn’t have to be extremely strenuous or unpleasant. Ask a friend to go for a walk. Listen to a favorite song during exercise. Get time outside with gardening. Park a little further from the mall entrance to add a few more steps to your routine.

Be aware that women’s symptoms are unique when a heart attack occurs.

Did you hear about Rosie O’Donnell’s heart attack? She didn’t recognize the symptoms, because they are so different in women than men. Know the seven most common symptoms of a heart attack in women, and if you experience them — or see them in a friend — make the call (to 911!) and don’t miss a beat.

Economics can have a huge impact on health.

Researchers suggest several reasons why income, where you live, and how much stress you have affect the state of your health. Better access to medical care and eating healthier foods are major reasons. What can you do to tip the balance back in your favor? Find all the free or low-cost services that best meet your needs, and never let pride get in the way of your health or well-being.  Take generic prescription drugs when they are available. Check out your local bargain chain grocery store.

Social Security benefits are often lower for women.

In 2012, the average annual Social Security income received by women 65 years and older was $12,520, compared to $16,398 for men. With longer life expectancies than men, older women tend to live more years in retirement and have a greater chance of using all other sources of income.  Don’t put all your assets in a joint account or let your partner handle all the finances single-handedly. Do it together, so you know what’s going on.