Losing Sleep-Literally-Over the Future
In lieu of a lullaby, here are steps to take to ease those financial worries
Evaluate your assets. Take stock of all the sources of income you're going to have in retirement. "You need to think about what sort of guaranteed income streams you have-Social Security, defined-benefit plans-and also the amount you have in a 401(k) or other savings," says Emily Kessler, a staff fellow for the Society of Actuaries. "Figure out how much you need to live on, and factor in inflation."
Make health insurance coverage a must. If you retire before age 65, make sure you have health insurance. You may be able to qualify for COBRA coverage for up to 18 months after you leave your job. But even after age 65, "get access to some form of insurance to help you pay for those things that Medicare doesn't cover," Kessler says. Medicare does not cover long-term care or long hospital stays, warns Copeland. Long-term health insurance can help make sure your investments remain intact if tragedy strikes. Says Ward in Alaska: "I know my mother, who is still going strong in her 80s, has to have supplemental, and I will probably have to do that, too."
Take care of your health. Perhaps even more important than accruing financial assets is investing in yourself with healthful foods, exercise, and preventive care so that catastrophic healthcare costs can be avoided as much as possible. "I recognize that at 65 you don't heal as fast as you do at 24," Ward says. "So, I see the doctor regularly, and I have mammograms regularly, and I'm recovering from an injury, so I do my physical therapy and build up my physical strength."
Of course, making sure your retirement worries don't interfere with adequate shut-eye will also keep you healthier. "Good sleep is important for good mental and physical health, including resistance to disease," says Timothy Monk, professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "It can be a predictor of longevity in seniors." Mary Carskadon, professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown Medical School, adds that too much nighttime tossing and turning "can contribute to the kind of illness that we typically associate with aging."