Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Long Term Health vs. Long Term Care

Long term care (LTC) is not something we ever want to need- and it’s definitely not something we want to pay for. Nobody likes to imagine a day when they or their loved ones cannot walk, feed, bathe or dress themselves. And who among us has enough savings or home equity to pay $83,500+ per year for a nursing home? Keep in mind that the average stay in a nursing home is 2.2 years for men and 3.5 years for women. Even home health care costs are upwards of $21 per hour- that’s $46,000 per year if you needed an assistant an average of six hours a day.

But the sad reality is that only 8-10% of aging Americans who could benefit from LTC insurance have it.  Many will get hit twice by LTC needs. Without LTC insurance, they will exhaust their finances and themselves caring for a loved one, and then face LTC needs of their own years later. The average American life expectancy is 78 years- up 29 years from 1900. Add in all the advancements in gene-therapy and biotechnology and we will likely live into our 90s.

Life is terminal, but fortunately we can delay or reduce the need for LTC through preventative health. Right now- with exercise, proper diet, stress-management and other lifestyle choices, we can combat most adult-onset diseases. The top 12 preventable causes of death, according to a Harvard School of Public Health study, are:

• Smoking
• High blood pressure
• Overweight-obesity
• Lack of exercise
• High blood pressure
• High LDL cholesterol
• High dietary salt
• Low dietary omega-3 fatty acids
• High dietary trans-fatty acids
• Alcohol abuse
• Low intake of fruits and vegetables
• Low dietary poly-unsaturated fatty acids

Interestingly, three of the top ailments requiring LTC can be prevented or mitigated by healthy lifestyle practices:

Bone fractures. Older people don’t fall just because of carelessness. More often it’s due to arthritis pain, muscle loss, declining stability and strokes. Regular exercise, good diet and stress management can postpone or lessen the severity of these conditions.

Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Learning and creative activity have been shown to improve memory, perception and mental agility- and even grow new brain cells. Exercise and diet can fight inflammation, which may be a factor in neurological disorders.

Heart disease. The Mayo Clinic recommends five practices to keep your heart pumping: quit smoking, exercise 30 minutes a day, avoid saturated and trans-fats, maintain a healthy weight and get regular health screenings.

Of course, this is easier said than done. So if you can’t give up the donuts and Doritos, or you’re just interested in learning more about LTC insurance, call Connie Prince at Allied Brokers. Connie is our in-house expert in LTC, disability, life, home, auto and umbrella insurance. With 26 years of industry experience and strong relationships with major carriers such as Mercury, Travelers, CIG, Hartford AARP, Genworth, Prudential and Banner, Connie will help you plan for the future and protect the ones you love.

Visit our website at http://www.alliedbrokers.com/ for information about all the types of insurance we offer. Or call 1-888-505-7988 for a free rate quote.

Information for this article was provided by Richard Samson, contributing editor to National Underwriter Life & Health Magazine, December 2011.

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