The biggest fear BEFORE retirement is money.  Pre-retirees worry about whether they’ve saved enough and if it will last.  The biggest fear AFTER retirement, however, is health. Once retired, people worry most about getting or staying healthy so they can do the things they want and have a good quality of life.  So, depending on where you fall on the retirement spectrum, health is either already a major concern of yours or it soon will be.  With that in mind, a few studies caught my eye recently that I want to share with you because they can help boost your memory and extend your life.

How blood pressure affects your memory.  A recent study by the National Institute of Health (NIH) examined whether more aggressive treatment of blood pressure could improve heart health.  The results were so impressive that they stopped the study early and lowered the systolic blood pressure recommendations from 140 to 120 (and overall blood pressure recommendations to no more than 120/80).  That more aggressive treatment reduced the risk of heart attack and stroke by nearly a third and death by almost 25 percent.  They did further research to see if there were any other benefits and last week they announced that bringing the systolic below 120 also reduced the risk of cognitive impairment by about 19%.  Cognitive impairment can lead to dementia which can lead to Alzheimer’s.  The takeaway?  Go get your blood pressure checked and if it’s above 120/80 you should talk to your doctor about bringing it down.

How relationships affect your health.  While I was reading about the blood pressure study, another NIH study caught my eye.  It summarized the growing body of evidence that shows how strong relationships and social connections can have a positive impact on your mental and physical health.  Here are a few of the findings:

  • Relationships have a cumulative impact on your health over time.
  • People with weaker relationships and social connections are much more likely to die prematurely.
  • Weak social ties are directly linked to a higher probability of developing conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer.
  • Once you develop those conditions, you’re more likely to die from them if you have weak social ties. For example, heart patients with weak social connections are twice as likely to die of cardiac arrest than patients with strong social connections.
  • Weak relationships also affect your immune function and your ability to recover from illness.

Why do relationships have such an impact?  One reason is that behavior explains roughly 40% of premature mortality and relationships have a positive impact on our behaviors.  You tend to take better care of yourself when you have people you care about.  Another reason relationships help?  Good relationships reduce stress and help foster a sense of meaning and purpose, both of which can help improve your mental and physical health.  The takeaway?  Work hard to foster meaningful relationships with friends and family. It can greatly impact your overall health, longevity and quality of life.

Money is an important ingredient to a successful retirement, but it’s meaningless if you’re not healthy enough to live life and do the things you want to do.  So work hard to get your finances in order, but take these words from Emerson to heart: “The first wealth is health.”

Be intentional,


5 Fundamentals of an Intentional Retirement
Get the big things right