Monday, October 31, 2011

Long Term Care Insurance Claims Likely For Arthritis Suffering Women Over Age 85

Two new reports should concern millions of aging women. The first reports that women diagnosed with arthritis are twice as likely to use their long-term care insurance as men. The second reveals that the lifetime prevalence of arthritis is 65.4% in individuals aged 85, occurring more commonly in women.

“Arthritis is one of the top reasons people need long term care as they age and no longer are able to perform normal daily functions,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for long term care insurance. “We found that 10 percent of nursing home claimants receiving insurance benefits are women diagnosed with arthritis.”

A second study revealed that arthritis is strongly connected with age. Researchers examined how the oldest individuals, those aged 85 years or older, are affected by the disease. They looked at adults over the age of 85.

The findings revealed that for any arthritis the lifetime prevalence was high, with 673 (65.4%) of the participants having arthritis, they also discovered that the disease was more common in women than men (69.1% vs 58.8%).

Osteoarthritis was more common in women than men (57.1% vs 42.5%). Osteoarthritis was most prevalent in the knee joint followed by the hip and hand. Several of those participating in the study identified the knee as the most painful joint, even though the foot, ankle and lower back received the highest pain score.

“The impact of arthritis on disability, health and long term care need is significant,” Slome notes. “The economic burden of musculoskeletal disease in the oldest old is potentially huge and its management presents a major challenge to American families.

According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance planning is especially important for women who are far more likely to need care as a result of living longer lives. “Because of the need to medically qualify for long term care insurance women need to start planning well before reaching age 70,” Slome advises. “The sweet spot is between ages 52 and 64 before Medicare kicks in and people take advantage of the free medical screenings the Medicare program offers.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Long Term Care Insurance Industry Leader Warns More Medicaid Changes To Come

Illinois State lawmakers along with private estate planning attorneys have finally worked out a deal on long-delayed rules to carry out a 2005 federal law restricting the way residents can shelter assets and still qualify for Medicaid benefits to cover nursing-home care.

“Lawmakers realize that taxpayers simply will no longer allow lawyers to shelter the wealth of families while taxpayers pay the growing tab for long-term care,” declares Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. “With State Medicaid budgets in shambles, more states are going to have to take a serious look at the ways lawyers transfer this costly burden to working taxpayers.”

The agreement, approved unanimously by the Illinois General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, deals with the practice of gifting assets to relatives and other people. The new rules, which take effect January 1, 2012 make Illinois one of the last states to implement the federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.

State experts say the changes deal with many of the provisions elder-law attorneys considered harsh. “The rules apparently still are quite generous in terms of granting hardship waivers to seniors who have made asset transfers in the past five years and want those transfers treated under the old rules,” Slome adds. “But, it’s just a matter of time until younger taxpayers wake up and demand more money for their childrens’ schools and less money to pay for nursing home care for seniors with assets. More changes will be forthcoming to force people to take personal responsibility for their care costs.”

Under the new rules, the look-back period will be extended from the current three years to five years when calculating Medicaid eligibility. Under the current system, the penalty period starts based on the date assets were transferred. Under the new rules, the penalty period won’t start until a person already is in a nursing home and has spent almost all of his or her assets.

The new restrictions on Medicaid eligibility increase the need for people to look into long term care insurance costs, Slome advises. “But you can not wait until you are in need of care,” Slome adds. “Insurance companies will only issue coverage to those who can medically qualify so the right time to start planning is between ages 52 and 64.”

The Deficit Reduction Act is designed to save the publicly funded Medicaid system an estimated $3.9 billion nationwide from 2006 through 2015.

Monday, October 17, 2011

More Seniors Surviving Cancer Adds To Long-Term Care Crisis

Over the next decade there will be a dramatic rise in the number of people over the age of 65 either living with cancer or with a history of the disease according to a new study.

According to an analysis of US cancer data, the greying of the baby boomer generation is at the root of the issue. “Americans are already living longer lives and that will create a long-term care tsunami in the years to come,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the Los Angeles-based American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. “Because long-term care insurance can only be purchased when you can medically qualify, the tsunami will wreak havoc on family savings and state Medicaid welfare budgets.”

National Cancer Institute (NCI) researchers found the number of people over age 65 with cancer will rise by about 42% in the next decade. Cancer is largely a disease of aging, the researchers noted.

The scientists analyzed data the revealed that in 1971, the number of people in the US who had survived cancer was about 3 million. By 2008, the figure had risen to nearly 12 million. In 2008, the proportion of cancer survivors aged 65 and over was 60% and is set to reach 63% by 2020.

The most commonly diagnosed cancers among survivors were: female breast cancer (22% of diagnoses), prostate cancer (20%), and colonrectal cancer (9%). The high rate of survival among this population is most likely due to improved detection and screening.

In contrast, the percentage of lung cancer survivors is only 3%, despite it being by far the most frequently diagnosed cancer in both men and women.
“When you live a long life and now are even more likely to survive diseases like cancer, you are increasingly likely to need costly long term care, states Slome. “With more Americans living into their 80s and beyond, having a long term care plan in place is more important than ever.”

Financial planning experts note that most people wait too long to consider their options because the right time to plan is prior to turning age 65 before medical conditions like cancer, high blood pressure are diagnosed or become problematic. “The sweet spot for long term care insurance is between ages 52 and 64,” Slome adds.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Comedy Is Good Medicine For Alzheimer’s Patients

Exposing individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease to humor therapy appears as effective as psychiatric drugs in reducing the agitation that often plagues those struggling with dementia. Researchers found that nursing home residents who actively participated in a weekly two-hour clowning session involving music, mime and humorous props showed a significant reduction in both physically and verbally aggressive behavior.

“The number of U.S. adults aged 65 years and older is projected to nearly double over the next two decades,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance , the national trade organization. “As a result, the incidence of cognitive issues especially Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is also expected to rise as will the need for costly long term care.”

Scientists found that laughter resulted in a 20-percent plunge in overall agitation. The benefit lasted for at least 14 weeks beyond the conclusion of the clowning program. They noted an added bonus, the fact that change was achieved without running any of the risk of serious side effects, including falling and premature death, that have been previously associated with prescription antipsychotic drugs.

The study authors noted that between 70 percent and 80 percent of dementia patients experience some form of agitation and distress, which can include bouts of wandering, screaming and repetitive behaviors.

The scientists utilized the services of an elder clown who was trained to engage in humor-based therapy in a medical setting. Sessions were conducted weekly and involved humorous improvisation skills, similar to those used by clown doctors who perform for sick children.

While agitation remained lower 26 weeks following therapy launch, the boost in both happiness and positive behaviors seen during the program faded once the program ended.

George T. Leamon, CLTC, a long-term care insurance expert advises adults in their mid-50s to learn more about long-term care planning and get long-term care insurance costs. He explains that the best ages to look into this protection is prior to age 65 when health issues including early diagnosis of cognitive issues can make it harder or more costly to medically qualify for coverage.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Long Term Care Insurance Risk Faced By 55 Million With High Blood Pressure

One-quarter of American adults receive treatment for high blood pressure.

New research reported by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reveals that of the estimated 55.1 million people with high blood pressure, 29 percent were black patients and 25 percent were white adults. Among others treated for high blood pressure, 15 percent were Hispanics and 20 percent were other races.

Total costs for treatment of high blood pressure amount to over $47 billion, including $21.3 billion for prescription drugs, $13 billion on doctor visits and an additional $13 billion spent on hospitalizations, emergency room visits and home health care.

Most people treated for high blood pressure are age 65 or older. This age group accounted for nearly 60 percent of reported treatments. Meanwhile, patients ranging in age from 45 to 64 accounted for about 32 percen of reported treatments and those between the ages of 18 and 44 were just 5 percent.

The federal agency noted that 25 percent of women received treatment for high blood pressure compared to 23 percent of men.

According to Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance, high blood pressure is a treatable condition but also connected with a higher risk of needing long term health care and thus creating a greater risk of utilizing long-term care insurance.

“With more Americans living into their 80s and beyond, having a long term care plan in place is more important than ever,” declares Slome. “Most people wait too long to consider their options because the right time to plan is prior to turning age 65 before medical conditions like high blood pressure are diagnosed or become problematic.”