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    Health trumps wealth in importance to retirees’ well-being

    Whoever said, “If you have your health, you have everything,” must have been retired.

    That’s because retirees feel more financially secure when they’re in good health according to new research. And when they feel financially secure, retirees also report they’re enjoying retirement more, they feel fulfilled and are less likely to experience negative emotions.

    The study, Health, Wealth and Happiness in Retirement ( is part of a larger research project conducted on behalf of MassMutual by Greenwald & Associates. The research split 905 retirees with at least $ 50,000 in assets into two subgroups: those who characterized their health as excellent or very good and those who characterized their health as good or poor.

    “The message for both retirees and pre-retirees is that health has a major impact on satisfaction with life in retirement,” says Elaine Sarsynski, executive vice president of MassMutual Retirement Services. “We need to focus on our health as much as possible so we can enjoy life to the fullest extent in our later years. While none of us can predict how healthy we will be in the future, we can help influence the outcome by making lifestyle choices that promote good health.”

    Seven out of 10 retirees in better health say they feel financially secure compared to 51 percent of retirees in poorer health, the study found.

    Retirees in poorer health were twice as likely to feel anxious about their finances and lack a sense of purpose, and three times more likely to feel lonely, the research found. Also, four in 10 retirees overall say they spend more on health care than they expected before retiring, with 43 percent spending more than $ 5,000 annually and 14 percent spending more than $ 10,000.

    If you’re in retirement, or looking forward to retirement, maintaining a healthy lifestyle should be a goal to help you better enjoy your retirement years. An earlier study conducted by MassMutual and Greenwald & Associates, Hopes, Fears and Reality – What Workers Expect in Retirement and What Steps Help Them Achieve the Retirement They Want (, found that nearly half of all retirees retired sooner than they anticipated. This may mean that they are retiring at a younger age, and looking forward to enjoying their retirement years as much as possible.

    Studies show that good health allows retirees to get out and enjoy life. Playing golf or tennis, spending the afternoon on a boat, or meeting with friends and family for lunch or dinner are all enjoyable activities retirees may have time to do. However, when a person falls ill, they may not be able to get out and enjoy the retired life as much as someone who is healthy.

    “Our study focused on people in the first 15 years of retirement,” says Mathew Greenwald, president of Greenwald & Associates. “In many cases, serious medical issues arise after that, in older age. But even in the healthiest part of retirement, better health clearly has an impact on most people’s ability to fully enjoy retirement. Many of these issues will only be exacerbated for retirees as they age, which puts an exclamation point on the importance of wellness.”

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