Long term care is a woman's issue. Don't get me wrong - men need to plan for their long-term care needs, too. But the fact is that women live longer and will most likely be caregivers first and in need of caregiving later. And, when the time comes for her, the same family and financial support might not be available.
That's why it is so important that women plan for the time when they can't take care of themselves and might need some help with everyday activities. So, ladies, what are we doing wrong?
A new survey from AARP says that 6 in 10 women don't know how they'll pay for long-term care needs. And, 40 percent don't know that long-term care is not just nursing home care, but a combination of care, including in-home services and daily help that may be needed for chronic conditions.
And, only 23 percent of women understand they will likely pay for future long-term care with personal savings, as Medicare and private health insurance don't cover long-term care services.
If you doubt how important an issue this is talk to a woman in her 80's who has to turn to an adult child for care - or worse yet, not sure where to turn for help in paying for the assistance she needs. I bet it is not how she expected things to turn out.
The first step is to get educated about long term care. You'll find Medicare doesn't cover it. So how do you pay for long-term care?
Long-term care insurance is one way to handle the financial risk. Most policies today pay for a range of care from at-home help or adult day services to assisted living and nursing homes. Because qualifying for long-term care insurance depends on your health condition, it is best to purchase it in your 50's.
If long-term care insurance isn't right for you, you might try to set aside a portion of your retirement funds specifically marked for long-term care needs. Or a reverse mortgage might be an option if you have equity in your home that you can covert to funds to pay for your care at home. However, a reverse mortgage won't help you if you need to move to assisted living or a nursing home.
So while you are making plans on how to pay for long-term care, staying health should also be on your list. Here are 8 steps to staying healthy recommended by AARP. These are all things you've heard before. So why not take steps to start taking better care of yourself today?
1. Know your family health history.
Medical information about yourself and close blood relatives can help you and your doctors identify your own risk factors for myriad illnesses and disorders, from heart disease and stroke to diabetes and cancer.
2. Keep immunizations up-to-date.
Protection against some diseases may not have been available when you were younger, or you may need a booster to ensure that immunity you do have doesn't fade. And of course new illnesses -- remember H1N1? -- can crop up for which you need protection.
3. Avoid medication mix-ups.
Most adults age 45 and older take an average of four prescription drugs daily -- not counting vitamins, supplements or over-the-counter medicines. Keep track of what you take and when you take it and share that list with your doctor every time you visit.
4. Don't smoke.
Studies on smoking show women who don't smoke are at lower risk for lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis and more. If you currently smoke, get help quitting by calling 800-QUITNOW (800-784-8669) or visiting Smokefree Women.
5. Get moving.
Daily exercise can help prevent bone loss, diabetes and heart disease; fight depression; and may even help keep your brain fit.
6. Eat a healthy diet.
Focus on lean, natural foods, and cut back on processed, prepackaged meals and snacks.
7. Stay at a healthy weight.
8. Drink alcohol only in moderation.
The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality advises one drink a day. A standard drink is one 12-ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler, one 5-ounce glass of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.
Share your tips with how you've turned to a more healthy lifestyle to llive a longer and healthier life.