Here are two hard truths about long-term care: First, you or a loved one will probably need some sort of care - nursing home, assisted living, or in-home care - at some point. Second, your employer-based health insurance won't always be much help. How then, do you go about paying for what can be an expensive service? Whether you begin to plan for it early on or are forced to locate funds in a short period of time, there are ways to get quality healthcare.
If You Have Time to Plan
Planning for how you’ll pay for long-term care is easier if you know it’s coming. How do you know that you or a loved-one will certainly need nursing home care, assisted living care, or in-home care? Well, you don’t. However, you can make an educated guess based on your current health, habits, and family history.
Your first step is to begin saving, if possible. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to do this. You can open either a Health Savings Account or a Flexible Spending Account. Both offer tax incentives and allow thousands in contributions, but there are differences (the latter doesn’t allow for rollover funds, among other things).
Another thing to consider if you expect to need long-term care in the future is long-term care insurance. While these plans have lost ground to whole life insurance policies that let you draw money specifically for long-term care, long-term care insurance can be cheaper on the premium side.
Finally, consider if you may be able to age in place (with some supplemental in-home care) as opposed to moving to a nursing home/assisted living facility. You can make some home modifications to help you do this, including widening doorways, installing grab bars in high-risk places, adding more lighting, replacing loose carpeting with hardwood, and installing more hand railings. It may be more money upfront than an insurance policy, but much cheaper than assisted living care in the long run.
If the Need Springs Up Unexpectedly
Planning is always better. If you are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, for example, it’s easy to begin planning for long-term care because you are nearly certain you will need it. But sometimes people can need long-term care unexpectedly -- an accident leaves one disabled or one succumbs to a fast-moving illness. If this happens, there are still some options for finding the funds for care. These include, but are not limited to:
Though both savings and private insurance can both be a solid provider of compensation for doctors visits, procedures, medication, and even hospital stays, it’s not much help when it comes to long-term care. The best thing you can do is begin to plan early for necessary care, especially if you feel it is probable that you’ll need it. Beyond that, it is possible to find funding for care if you need it fast -- it’s just a little harder.
It’s World Health Week, and with the nights drawing in and temperatures dropping, it is clear that cold and flu season is on its way. Many people just accept that they will get sick during this time, but it doesn’t have to be like this. Follow these five simple rules and you can stay healthy this winter.
1. Eat Well
Look at what're you're putting into your body. This is your opportunity to take control and nourish yourself with the vitamins and minerals needed to boost your immune system and fight off bacteria. Aim to consume citrus fruits like oranges, limes, and even chillies. That’s right, chillies actually have more vitamin C in than oranges, and can be included in many delicious meals that will help clear congested sinuses and help boost your immune system. Leafy greens are another source of vital minerals and vitamins like vitamin K, and can be enjoyed through smoothies, stir fries or hot pots. Herbs and spices are an easy way to get flavor and nutrients into your diet, while enjoying healthy food that you may typically avoid. Learning to cook smart meals that also taste great is something we can all improve on, and will have huge health benefits moving into the winter season.
Research shows that exercise is needed to maintain both physical and mental health. Don't be put off by the rainy weather, get out there for a 30 minute brisk walk, cycle to work instead of taking the bus or simply give the house a real autumn clean. But if you want to get a serious workout and boost your body’s illness-fighting power, consider joining a gym. By improving your body, you improve its efficiency, and this means it can fight infections off much better.
3. Keep Smiling
Socializing is a fundamental part of your well-being and shouldn't be ignored. Becoming isolated can increase the chance of developing depression which has been linked to decreased immune function. Furthermore, meeting up with friends reduces stress; if you’re stressed your immune system is compromised as well. We all make excuses not to meet up with friends when we're tired, but having a good chat over a cuppa or visiting your local art gallery can really help reduce stress levels and combat illness.
4. Keep Clean
Scrub up well! Over the winter period it’s crucial to wash your hands regularly to avoid the spread of bacteria and viruses. Having clean hands is the first line of defence against harmful bacteria that leads to infection. You can carry hand sanitiser around with you to maintain cleanliness when you’re on the move. That way you're keeping yourself and others healthy.
Get enough good, high quality rest. Lack of sleep is proven to increase your appetite for greasy foods, make you less productive and reduce levels of white blood cells, ultimately making you more prone to illness. Furthermore, your body does most of its healing and repairing when you are asleep, so if you reduce that time, you reduce how able your body is to fight off illness.
So follow these five health tips this winter and you'll give yourself the best possible chance to avoid getting ill.