These days, millions of Americans approach their retirement without taking the time to account for the potential costs they might face if they run into a medical emergency, particularly one that ends up necessitating that they receive care on a long-term basis.

One of the largest expenses most retirees have as they age, and usually the only one that ends up costing them more as time goes on, rather than less, is for healthcare. Typically, senior citizens see their cost of living decline as the years go on, while their healthcare expenses rise to replace the vacant portion of their retirement income. In some cases, the latter even ends up exceeding what they receive from their various income sources.

But the old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure holds true when it comes to planning for these expenses. Not only should you approach your retirement so that you have enough to cover any medical costs you might incur over the years, but you should also take the final few years before you stop working to make sure you can be as physically fit as possible.

This can include starting to exercise more often so that you're in better shape, and addressing any healthcare needs you might have while you're still covered by your employer's health plan. The costs for doing so under that kind of coverage is typically far less than what you would face if you did so through Medicare or other types of retirement health plans. Treating as many potential issues as possible in the run up to retirement can help you avoid far more significant costs down the road as a result.

Further, you should always take the time, even after retirement, to get preventative care whenever you can. Regular checkups with your doctors will ensure that you are as fit in your day-to-day life as possible and will help you to detect any potentially troubling long-term health problems before they become particularly problematic.

Of course, you can't plan for everything related to your health that might come along, but making sure you're positioned to face as many issues head-on as possible, both financially and physically, is a great way to ensure that you're going to be able to afford healthcare expenses even on a fixed income.