If long term care seems like a far off concept to you, you aren’t alone. The majority of Americans aren’t thinking about long term care or the threat it poses to their retirement assets, but the reality is, the threat is looming whether you are thinking about it or not.
As with any insurance, risk varies from person to person. That is why most people put off planning for long term care; they view themselves as part of the low risk group and therefore, don’t see long term care planning as something that applies to them. Unlike most insurance areas, though, the risk of long term care is actually quite high.
Government studies estimate the risk of long term care to be 1 in 2 for the general population in the United States. Once an individual reaches the age of 65, that risk goes up substantially to 7 in 10, which makes sense. As we age, we become more fragile and susceptible to chronic illnesses that could land us in the hospital or cause us to need help with daily tasks like dressing and eating. People dread the thought of themselves as old and fragile, though, so planning for such a situation is often pushed into the back of their mind, sometimes until it is too late.
It’s not uncommon for people to wait to plan for long term care until they need it. By then, it is much too late. It’s essentially impossible to get long term care coverage once you have been diagnosed with any sort of condition that requires it, which is why planning ahead is vital. The risk isn’t the same for every one, though, so consider these three aspects to help assess your risk and determine the best way for you to plan for long term care.
1) Family history – One of the best indicators of your risk for chronic diseases, your family history can help you know whether or not you have a higher chance of developing certain conditions. Of course it’s no guarantee, but certain diseases like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s have genetic influences. If your family has a long history of any of these diseases, it’s likely not in your best interest to avoid the subject of planning for this risk.
2) Current health – Your current age and health can help you predict where you will be in another 5, 10, or 15 years. Are you struggling from medical ailments right now? Do you already have some sort of manageable chronic disease? If so, planning for long term care should be a high priority. The more medical conditions you have, the less likely you are to qualify for long term care coverage. Waiting will only decrease your chances.
3) Diet - The food we put into our bodies has a huge impact on our current and future health. Even if you have a family history of heart disease, you can help yourself avoid the same fate by eating a healthful diet rich in plant foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, and legumes. All of these foods are full of fiber and antioxidants, low in fat, and lacking in cholesterol. Consuming a diet high in fatty foods like processed sweets, red meat, and cheese can increase your risk of heart disease and may even increase your risk of Alzheimer’s, according to a recent study that found cholesterol affects risk of dementia.
Understanding your personal risk for long term care can help you make the decision as to which long term care planning route is best for you. Long Term Care Insurance can be a great tool to add to your retirement portfolio, especially if you already know that you are at risk of needing long term care later in life.
Read more about determining your long term care risk here.