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Retirement and the osteoarthritis factor - Dunwoody Crier: Our Columnists

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Investment Coach Retirement and the osteoarthritis factor

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Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 9:47 am | Updated: 9:48 am, Tue Jan 22, 2013.

Jim Fixx was a baby boomer guru. His best-selling books extolled the virtues of running, preaching that an active lifestyle extended life and the ability to enjoy it. For most of us, that is true. Sadly, for James Fixx, in 1984 at age 52 he died on a Vermont country lane while on a solitary run.

Felled by a massive heart attack, two of his coronary arteries were sufficiently blocked to warrant a bypass operation. There are lessons in the Jim Fixx story applicable to your 2013 resolutions. Guys are notorious for ignoring warning signs. We are slow to seek medical advice, until nagged into action by those who love us, or a serious condition arises. The lesson—get a complete physical in 2013. Screenings for a wide range of conditions are getting better.

Denial is a river in Egypt but not a prescription for good health, whether male or female. Diagnostics—colonoscopies, prostate screenings, mammograms—are important.

If alive, Jim Fixx would be age 80 and by now most likely would have had a knee or hip replacement. The running craze started because with the decline in manual labor, we are not exercising our joints as once we did. The downside is that running and active sports like tennis and basketball are hard on aging joints, especially knees and hips. The consequence is soaring demand for artificial joints to prolong an active life.

Per WebMD, several decades ago the majority of joint replacement surgeries had as the driving cause rheumatoid arthritis, a disease for which treatment has improved substantially. Now the leading reason for joint replacement is osteoarthritis, caused largely by trauma and wear and tear on the body.

On Dec. 14, yours truly joined the trend, having a total left knee replacement delivered by Santa Surgeon, aka, Dr. Ken Kress at Resurgens in Atlanta. A new knee for Christmas, I learned, is not a day at the beach. Recovery is a painful and dedicated process at which one must work if a good outcome is desired.

Babies are cute but they also are messy and demanding, requiring constant care. Unless we die quickly like Jim Fixx, the odds are that we will at times be “baby like,” needing care just to accomplish the basics—eating, dressing, bathing, toileting, transferring.

The first week or so after a knee replacement is brutal, and one needs help. I am fortunate that my wife is a dedicated and patient caregiver. You, dear reader, need to think about that. When you need help, and you will, who will be there for you?

Are you nurturing that relationship so that he or she will respond with love and compassion when you are a baby again—not cute, but messy, somewhat or completely helpless, demanding and impatient with your newfound restrictions?

Living longer has a downside, with the rising cost of health care and caregiving. Have you built realistic estimates of health care costs into your retirement budget? If you are single, widowed or divorced, who will be your caregiver? What plans have you made relative to powers of attorney for assets and health care and advanced directives? Have you had a conversation with your spouse, the adult child, relative, or dear friend who will step in? Have you considered long term care? The average cost of a semi-private nursing home room rose by 3.7 percent in 2012 from 2011 to $222 daily. Assisted living rates rose 2.1 percent to $3,550 per month. Long term care is not covered by Medicare.

A knee replacement may contribute to an on-going active life, but it is major surgery. It is painful and requires a caregiver, if only for a time. It may be the key to the go-go phase of whatever you define as retirement. During the recovery, you get an inkling of what the slow-go and no-go phase of retirement may be like. Have you thought about that aspect of your life’s journey?

Lewis Walker is President of Walker Capital Management LLC and Walker Capital Advisory Services, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor (R.I.A.) Securities and certain advisory services offered through The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc. (SFA). Lewis Walker and Mike Hostetler are registered representatives of SFA which otherwise is unaffiliated with the Walker Capital Companies.

© 2015 Dunwoody Crier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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1 comment:

  • glove2347 posted at 12:44 pm on Fri, Feb 1, 2013.

    glove2347 Posts: 1

    One portion of your article needs a bit more insight. Some of your implied lessons are a bit off of the real facts and promote the "mythology of exercise induced degeneration."

    > "Sadly, for James Fixx, in 1984 at age 52 he died on a Vermont country lane while on a solitary run.
    Felled by a massive heart attack, two of his coronary arteries were sufficiently blocked to warrant a bypass operation. There are lessons in the Jim Fixx story applicable to your 2013 resolutions."

    Jim Fixx tried to out-exercise his horrible diet.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-robbins/what-should-we-learn-from_b_815943.html

    > "If alive, Jim Fixx would be age 80 and by now most likely would have had a knee or hip replacement."

    Implying that exercise, specifically running is bad for your joints is really against the results of all state of the art science.
    There are too many studies to site in this short of a reply but here are a few.
    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/11/phys-ed-can-running-actually-help-your-knees/
    “Walking programs, because of their low impact, tend to show only modest or no effects on BMD. (bone mineral density)”
    http://www.thesportjournal.org/article/training-improve-bone-density-adults-review-and-recommendations
    “The reduction in cardio vascular disease risk achieved by participation in resistance training was similar to that provided by brisk walking and rowing but was approximately half of that provided by running.”
    http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/122/16/1637.full

    Running is very good for you long-term when not overdoing and allowing body time to rebuild from the joint, bone loading and cardiac rebuilding that it provides.
    I have to council the actual facts to many of older guys that want to blame their exercise for their ills.
    Maybe it's the “see I'm really a warrior thing”, that is really going on in their heads; but it is almost always folks that have quit exercising years earlier and the deterioration is almost always from the lack of exercise and bad diet. The ones that are smart enough to step outside their prejudices and preconceptions all tend to be extremely healthier for the effort.
    Pubmed is a great reference you make as all of these study results can be found there also.

     

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