Saving for retirement has been likened to climbing a mountain. It’s an ambitious goal. It requires long-term effort and an experienced guide. Progress is sometimes slow as you work your way around obstacles. But when you finally reach the summit, you can just relax and enjoy the view.

That’s the idealized version, anyway.

In real life mountain climbing, the risks don’t stop when you reach your goal. They simply change. And you find yourself facing a new set of hazards.

For example, a climber who reaches the top of Oregon’s Mt. Hood (one of the most-climbed peaks in the U.S.) faces the risks of unexpected storms, precipitous terrain, and lethal ice falls. For these reasons, it’s standard for climbing groups to begin their ascent between midnight and 2 AM in order to reach the summit before the mid-morning sun loosens the surface of the glaciers.

A safe climb back down is also an achievement.

In the same way, once you achieve the goal of a fully funded retirement, you face a new set of hazards as you seek to maintain a consistent post-work income.

One of these risks is the expense of healthcare.

Registered Nursing used data from the Department of Health and Human Services to calculate that each year people 65 and older can expect to pay an average of $11,316 in healthcare costs.

Fidelity Investments came up with a similar long-term estimate. According to their calculations, a 65-year-old couple retiring in 2019 could expect to spend $285,000 on healthcare and medical expenses over the course of their retirement.

And if that weren’t daunting enough, neither estimate took into account the likely need for long-term care.

According to financial advisor and Forbes contributor James Brewer, many people are relying on Medicare to protect them from major healthcare costs. But the program wasn’t designed to be a catch-all.

“Medicare is an à la carte approach to health insurance,” he writes. “In the end your selections will limit your out-of-pocket costs, but these selections increase ongoing premiums.”

And while Medicare does cover rehabilitation, it does not cover long-term care. Health and Human Services estimates that someone turning 65 today has an almost 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care services during their lifetime.

The point of bringing this up isn’t to discourage you, but to make you aware. It’s far easier to handle these challenges if you have a plan in place ahead of time.

We not only have a thorough knowledge of options and strategies you can take advantage of now, but we can draw on our expertise gained from helping others through similar situations.