Remember Farrah Fawcett, the glamorous star of the ’70s television hit, “Charlie’s Angels?” Married for a time to Lee Majors, star of the action series “The Six Million Dollar Man,” Fawcett became one of America’s favorite pin-up models. The July 4, 1977, People magazine cover featured the buff couple jogging, headlining, “Everybody’s Doing It: Stars Join The Jogging Craze.”

Joining the “everybody cohort,” I started running. Running fed my passion for being outdoors while exercising at the same time. While not settled science, excessive running is thought to cause wear and tear on knees over the years, compounding difficulties stemming from arthritis, joint pain, etc. My first clue that I may have overdone it was a torn meniscus in my left knee. 

In 2012 I had a total replacement of my left knee, again “joining the crowd.” Orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Nicholas DeNubile, University of Penn Hospital, coined the term “boomeritis” to describe conditions that afflict many middle-aged and older patients when body parts are over-stressed. Knee replacements are up by 300 percent among 45 to 64-year-olds in the past decade. 

Joint replacement surgery of any kind is not a day at the beach. But advancements in technique have been remarkable. Using the same surgeon who performed my 2012 procedure, Dr. Ken Kress, on May 15, 2019, I had my right knee replaced. The difference in outcome is astounding!  

In 2012, I was hospitalized overnight. Experiencing substantial pain and discomfort, I spent six boring hours a day for some time in a “range of motion machine” to help restore agility. Painkilling opiods caused major problems.

Fast forward seven years. Checking into Northside Cumming hospital at 9 a.m., I was home before 5 p.m., same day

“Joint replacement in one day, amazing,” said my son, a doctor. 

Prior to the surgery, I attended a “Joint Class” which focused on advance preparation, including exercise to strengthen leg muscles. The germ-killing protocols to prevent infection are impressive. Anesthesia now includes a nerve block to minimize pain for the first few days following surgery. Unlike 2012, I was able to walk immediately without a cane or walker. Home physical therapy for about three weeks with prescribed exercise routines has replaced the tedious range of motion machine. Home therapy is followed by outpatient therapy. Opoids were avoided.

A knee replacement isn’t a piece of cake. But if you work to be in reasonable shape going in, drop some weight, and follow instructions to the letter, odds of a good outcome and experience are enhanced. 

“What,” you ask, “does this have to do with financial planning?” Answer —healthcare is wealthcare! 

Your goal in pursuing financial independence is to enjoy the fruits of your labors. You want to experience things with family and friends, travel, pursue passions and hobbies, do volunteer work, start a new venture, you name it. You don’t want to be a burden on your family. Caregiving stress is increasing for spouses and adult children, especially daughters in the “sandwich generation” caught in a squeeze involving family and career pressures along with helping aging parents. 

Much focus on retirement risks involves “not running out of money.” How about not falling? Falls are a leading cause of injury-related visits to hospital emergency rooms and the primary cause of accidental deaths for seniors. Risk factors include balance issues, medication use, cognitive impairment, peripheral neuropathy and sensory disorders. Per the CDC, annually falls result in 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency facilities, over 800,000 hospitalizations, and more than 27,000 deaths. 

A MarketWatch “Best New Ideas In Retirement Report” (WSJ, 6/3/2019) declared, “Your Personal Trainer May Be As Important As Your Financial Adviser.” Physical fitness is not just about 76 million boomers, ages 55-73, but 25 million folks older than that, including 8 to 10 million “super seniors” age 85 or older. Super seniors are incredibly fit and active, a goal for everyone who at some point will be retired. Retired, maybe, but active, engaged, and passionate about life. There’s a goal!

Retirement financial success is more likely if you have measurable goals, start early, maintain pragmatic and focused discipline, and have someone to advise, coach, or mentor you along the way. The same formula translates into getting and staying in shape, overcoming setbacks from illness and injury, and aging with purpose and agility. 

Fiscal and physical fitness go together. What’s your plan?

Lewis Walker, CFP®, is a financial life planning strategist at Capital Insight Group; 770-441-3553;  Securities & advisory services offered through The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc. (SFA). Lewis is a registered representative and investment adviser representative of  SFA, otherwise unaffiliated with Capital Insight Group. He’s a Gallup Certified Clifton Strengths Coach and Certified Exit Planning Advisor.


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