The critical element of health

Health is one of the foundational elements to life satisfaction in retirement. It not only determines how long we live, but also can have a direct effect on our quality of life. Survey after survey reveals that loss of one’s health is the greatest source of anxiety for retirees, beating out money stress. At the same time, direct health expenses as well as the indirect cost of lost earnings, caregiving, etc., often represent some of the greatest costs in retirement.

When we think of health in terms of “retiring well,” we focus on a concept introduced by Dr. Ken Dychtwald, the Founder and CEO of AgeWave, called “healthspan.” Health has traditionally focused on lifespan, or how long you live. Dr. Dychtwald promotes healthspan which is how long people live in “full health.” All retirees hope to stay healthy long enough to enjoy the active lifestyle they want and to avoid cognitive decline in the process. 

Most of the clients we work with don’t care to live to 100, they want to live well while they are here. As we examine how the health element impacts your life and your wealth, we will break it up into the following areas:

  1. Physical wellness
  2. Mental health
  3. Health economics

Physical wellness

This area covers the impact of nutrition, exercise, and your overall health management (including medical practices and alternatives). Poor health can have a dramatic impact on your wealth, your overall financial plan, and your level of life satisfaction. However, the purpose of wealth is to improve your life. 

How can your wealth be used to help improve your physical wellness? Maybe you could spend some money on a new gym or club membership, or the physical therapy you have been needing but putting off. You might want to schedule weekly massages or finally order that Peloton bike! All these things cost money and it’s easy to rationalize them away as being too expensive. However, how expensive are the alternatives of poor health and a low healthspan? 

Mental health

In recent years, it has become much more accepted to discuss mental health, its role in our overall wellness, and the need for professional guidance along the way. For retirees, it is extremely stressful to face a number of major life transitions at once as they step into retirement. Change creates stress, period. Change can also take us from a good state of mind (often called flow) and place us in a poor state of mind (often called struggle). Neglecting struggles with our mental health can lead to significant physical challenges. 

Health economics

As we have seen, money and health are bound to one another. Unfortunately, the economics of paying for your health is complicated, especially as you move from the structure of group benefits into the dizzying world of Medicare and supplemental insurance. This area covers the funding of your health journey including health insurance, Medicare, budgeting, etc.

Consider rating, on a scale from 1-10 (1 = poor, 10 = excellent), your current physical wellness, mental health, and health economics. And then discuss the results with your advisor.


Brightworth is a nationally recognized, fee-only wealth management firm with offices in Atlanta, GA, and Charlotte, NC. The wealth advisors at Brightworth have deep expertise across the financial disciplines, allowing us to provide ongoing, comprehensive financial advice to families across the country.


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