As healthcare costs continue to rise, you can’t afford to overlook medical expenses when saving for retirement, and budgeting for them accordingly. Awareness of your health risks and management of chronic conditions can help you avoid using up your retirement money faster than planned.


Two common and often preventable conditions, diabetes and dementia, are among the costliest to treat.1 Early detection and treatment of these diseases can result in a better, not to mention less expensive, outcome. The risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:

  • Being overweight
  • Hypertension, high cholesterol and heart disease
  • Older age—a woman’s risk increases after menopause
  • Giving birth to a baby that weighed nine pounds or more3
  • Family history—a diabetic parent or sibling
  • Race/ethnicity—African-American, Native American, Asian-Americans and Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders have a higher risk than other groups

 

 

Approximately one quarter of diabetics aren’t even aware they have the disease, as symptoms tend to slowly develop over time. Common diabetes symptoms are:

  • Tiredness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme thirst
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Increased urination
  • Tingling in the extremities
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent urinary and yeast infections2

 

Interestingly, type 2 diabetes can also be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Glucose is not properly used in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s, and insulin receptors don’t work as effectively as they should. One could say that the Alzheimer’s-affected brain is in a diabetic state, almost a “type 3 diabetes.”3

It’s important to know the difference between normal memory loss and the type of loss that is cause for concern. Dementia symptoms include:

  • Difficulty communicating and reasoning
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Mood and personality changes
  • Difficulty completing normal, familiar tasks, as well as difficulty learning new things or routines
  • Confusion and loss of a sense of direction
  • Repeating oneself or repeating common daily actions

 

AARP provides a quick and easy quiz you can take to test your knowledge and understanding of normal memory loss versus warning signs of dementia.


Your best chance of preventing both diabetes and dementia is to eat a healthy, vitamin-rich diet, regularly exercise both your body and mind, and stay socially active. Remember, taking care of yourself will allow you to take care of your loved ones. Financially speaking, if you have a family history of diabetes, dementia or other possibly serious health problems, you should factor that into your retirement planning. Take into account that women generally spend more on medical costs than men, especially as they age. Consider looking into long-term care insurance, with a financial professional helping you decide if it’s for you.


1 MSN, “11 costliest diseases in the U.S.” January 2016, http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/healthcare/11-most-expensive-diseases-in-the-us/ss-BBnOzYV

2 Womenshealth.gov epublication, March 2016, http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/diabetes.html

3 Alzheimer Society, “Diabetes and dementia—is there a connection?” February 2016, http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/About-dementia/Alzheimer-s-disease/Risk-factors/Diabetes-dementia-connection

 

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