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Jim with golfing buddies

Retirement and Chronic Care Needs

My buddies and I rely on a round of golf
to keep the heart active and the muscles moving. FORE! 

The National Council on Aging estimates that up to 92-percent of seniors have one chronic health condition and some 77-percent exhibit two or more chronic conditions. Such conditions can be treated but will most likely not result in a lasting cure. Chronic type issues include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and arthritis – these are among numerous health issues that are many times referenced as an example of a chronic type condition. Chronic health issues must be closely followed in order to lessen their impact on quality of life, reduce becoming a more critical health condition, or resulting in new health problems.

Adults generally begin looking at their future and potential full or partial retirement as they approach 60 years of age. Middle age is then passing and joining the U.S. retirement population becomes quite real. However, more and more who “retire” may actually continue to work even into the 70s, either full or part-time. There are certain issues that the potential retiree should consider as that time arrives, greatly related to health circumstances.

  • For my wife and I during our higher earnings years, we owned a lake home.   We and the family fully enjoyed getting out of the urban area and spending great times in the rural lake-shore-atmosphere. There you could really relax and forget the pressures of work, school, and general city and suburban life. However, as we aged we became further aware of the limitations on the nearness to necessities, one of the greatest being good and adequate health care. The issue of chronic health problems compounds the issues, and any difficulty in accessing/reaching the health care resource(s) makes is even more difficult. As such, the senior must look at his or her health before deciding on “retiring” to any area where health care could represent a substantial difficulty.
  • Many times chronic health issues can be addressed in a “continuum of care setting,” in which care might be provided in an unconventional manner. This can include care through an urgent care or something similar where health care is provided by others with M.D. oversight, clinic care, and walk-in low payment settings. These tend to be mostly available in urban settings, while home health care and various rehabilitation services are generally available for home visitation, as well as the latest forms of tele-medicine. Regardless, many seniors find that the absence of adequate and good health care can be destructive to quality of life in their retirement years.

I recommend you do two important things: review your health condition realistically, spending some time with your health care professionals and the family. You will find that where health care is waning, the family, like it or not, is often impacted, so the locations of family members to the retirement residence can be important. You will also need to take stock for the number and type of health care professionals needed within a 20-minute radius, the ability and time to reach those locations, and the existence of a critical care facility within 25 miles. You should also look at performance criteria for emergency services in the location (time to arrive, background expertise and any limitations on service). Time in transit can be of great importance, and any factor that can affect it must be fully considered.

The good news factor about chronic conditions is that preventative actions can be taken to lessen their effects and impacts. As we age-in-place, it behooves us to advance plan as we can, even though the future is still the realm of the unknown.