No matter how hard you worked or how much you saved, the sad reality of today’s economic landscape is that the rising cost of health care can quickly eat away at your retirement fund.

Health care expenses have inflated to the point that the average American couple over the age of 65 will pay $240,000 in medical bills, according to AARP. When paired with the sobering statistic that roughly a third of Americans over 65 rely entirely on Social Security for their retirement income, these findings underline an urgent problem that needs to be addressed.

Rather than wait for Washington or the health care industry to come up with a solution, many are taking a proactive approach and tackling the problem head on. Often, they succeed through some surprising and unconventional strategies. Make sure to always talk to your trusted financial advisor or other professionals before taking any action, but here are four creative ways you can tackle rising health care costs in your retirement years.

Maximize your social security benefits. It might be tempting to start claiming your benefits as soon as you’re eligible, but if you can, wait. The longer you wait, the more you and your spouse will be paid. Especially if you’re currently healthy, try to defer your benefits until you’re 70. If you do, your payments will increase by as much as 75 percent. This will put you in a good position to meet any unexpected costs in the future.

Sell your life insurance. Just like stocks and bonds, a life insurance policy is an investment. Periodically, you should review your policy to see whether or not it’s still needed. If your medical bills have gotten too high or you can no longer afford to pay the premiums, consider selling your life insurance policy through a life settlement. Essentially, you sell your policy to an investor who usually pays seven to eight times as much as the cash value of the policy. For many, this can be a quick way to relieve financial strain and deal with health care bills.

Consider a reverse mortgage. This is a loan available to homeowners that allows them to convert part of the equity in their homes into cash. The loan is called a “reverse mortgage” because instead of making monthly payments to a lender, as with a traditional mortgage, the lender makes payments to the borrower. The borrower is not required to pay back the loan until the home is sold or otherwise vacated.

Buy long term care insurance early. The costs of living in a nursing home or hiring a home caretaker can be staggering. Long term health insurance can be cost prohibitive, and for many healthy individuals, it’s hard to imagine a time when they will be in a situation when they will need full or assisted care. This can make it hard for them to justify paying the premiums. But if you start during your early to mid-50s, you can buy in at a lower rate and defray the expenses that you might not be able to afford.

Of all these, many people don’t realize that selling their life insurance is a viable option. In fact, 90 percent of seniors who allowed their policies to lapse without knowing that selling their life insurance was an option, would have considered selling if someone had told them about it. To learn more if this is right for you, visit