Many seniors are finding their medical expenses exceed what they anticipated when planning for retirement. Whether living a longer, healthier life than anticipated, dealing with a critical illness or paying for ongoing treatment for various ailments, the costs associated with medical care can add up. To help manage your assets in a way that allows you to deal with mounting health care costs, try one of these solutions.
How to Deal with Rising Health Care Costs
(Family Features) Many seniors are finding their medical expenses exceed what they anticipated when planning for retirement. Maximizing the value of available assets can be one of the ways to significantly ease a stressed budget.
Whether living a longer, healthier life than anticipated, dealing with a critical illness or paying for ongoing treatment for various ailments, the costs associated with medical care can add up. If you or a loved one is facing this challenge, it may be time to explore alternatives that allow you to continue to cover your expenses while easing the burden on your bank account.
Consider this story about a woman who sold her $500,000 term policy to pay her medical bills and cover future treatment costs. After her husband passed away, she was having trouble meeting her life insurance premium payments. Years later, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and was struggling to meet the cost of her ongoing treatment. She tried to apply for an accelerated death benefit, but didn’t qualify due to her state’s regulations. That’s when she contacted Coventry Direct to explore the option of selling her policy.
One of these solutions may help manage your assets in a way that allows you to deal with mounting health care costs:
Cut costs where you can. Ask your doctor to periodically review your medications to determine whether there are any you can eliminate, either due to improved condition or because other, newer prescriptions make them redundant. Also, talk with your doctor and pharmacist to ensure you are able to fill generic prescriptions when possible for added savings.
Take stock of your financial resources. Obvious assets such as a bank account or home can be leveraged for your financial benefit, but don’t overlook other potential resources, such as a life insurance policy. Many people are not aware that life insurance is personal property, has value and can be sold. Selling your life insurance policy, which is known as a life settlement, may result in an immediate cash payment. A company like Coventry Direct can help you determine whether a life settlement might allow you to sell your policy to help cover immediate needs or relieve the pressure of mounting medical debt.
Be a smart shopper. Shopping around for the best prices may take time, but it can also help you keep more of your money. For example, when it comes to special treatments and procedures, ask for a detailed explanation of charges ahead of time and compare outpatient facilities to hospitals to find the most affordable option.
Seek supplemental coverage. If out-of-pocket expenses are eating away at your savings account and you qualify for Medicare, consider purchasing supplemental coverage. You may find that the monthly premiums are more affordable than the costs you rack up with each new visit or prescription refill.
Managing your medical costs can feel like an overwhelming task, but there are steps you can take, including tapping into your financial assets, that can ease stress and allow you to focus more energy on managing your health and happiness.
To learn more about your options and whether a life settlement is right for you, visit coventrydirect.com/lifesettlements or call 888-858-9344.
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This article addresses the four common barriers to good nutrition, why they happen and some solutions to keep in mind. Arming yourself with knowledge and preparation, while also maintaining a sense of normalcy around food, will allow you to be a huge source of support for your loved one, helping him or her stay on track.
(BPT) - When a patient is battling cancer, good nutrition is essential to maintain physical strength and help ensure a better response to treatment. Foods high in protein are an important part of your loved one’s balanced diet, and helping them eat well is a critical investment in their health and well-being.
That said, there may be obstacles to good nutrition during cancer treatment such as mouth pain, fatigue, taste sensitivities and nausea. If eating and drinking are painful or unpleasant, it’s easy to see how maintaining good nutrition could be a challenge. This can lead to a chain reaction of complications and a longer recovery time.
"Most cancer patients are too tired to make a meal, or even shop for it. Yet the importance of good, consistent nutrition can't be overstated," said Dr. Bruce Moskowitz, physician and chairman of the Cancer Nutrition Consortium (CNC), a nutrition resource to help patients overcome the barriers to eating and get the nutrients they need, including proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
Below are four common barriers to good nutrition, why they happen and some solutions to keep in mind. Arming yourself with knowledge and preparation, while also maintaining a sense of normalcy around food, will allow you to be a huge source of support for your loved one, helping him or her stay on track.
Many cancer patients identified themselves as the main food preparer in their household, in a survey conducted by the CNC. On good days, your loved one may be in the kitchen, preparing and enjoying a tasty bean and vegetable soup from scratch. However, some days they might feel too tired to fix a meal. A lack of food can lead to even more fatigue, and that can trigger a downward spiral.
Keep a stock of nutrient- and protein-rich foods on hand for the too-tired days. One option is HORMEL VITAL CUISINE products, a line of power-packed drinks and packaged foods designed by nutritionists, physicians and chefs to fill a void and support the nutritional needs of cancer patients, while battling common barriers to good nutrition.
2. Mouth pain/trouble swallowing
Run your tongue along your inner cheek and gums. Those are brand new cells made by the body. Because chemotherapy and radiation damage cells, these mouth cells are often a casualty during treatment, resulting in sores that make it uncomfortable or even painful to eat.
Avoid tart and acidic foods that can irritate the mouth, such as citrus fruits and tomato sauces.
Steering clear of hard foods with rough edges, such as crackers, is also wise. Soft, easy-to-swallow foods are good options, such as eggs, bean soups or smoothies.
3. Taste sensitivities
Again, the disruption to the rapidly dividing cells inside the mouth can alter the flavor of food. Patients often experience a metallic taste, but sometimes, flavor components that are salty or bitter can intensify — unpleasantly so. Radiation can also damage saliva glands.
When foods taste bitter, metallic or too salty, try a sweeter approach and marinate meats in a sweet or sour sauce, fruit juice or a honey-lemon vinaigrette. If a food is too sweet, add salt or dilute it in water. Stimulate the taste buds and saliva glands with sour foods: avoid pickles, but try wholesome options such as Greek yogurt, kefir or tart cherries.
4. Nausea and vomiting
Besides being a common side effect of chemotherapy and radiation, cancer patients are often plagued with a condition called anticipatory nausea. That is, certain settings or circumstances, such as entering a treatment room, can make your loved one feel ill. Be aware of triggers and respect them, taking advantage of nausea-free days.
Encourage fluid intake in between meals rather than with meals, to leave room in the stomach for food. A few hours before radiation or chemotherapy, prepare a light snack or meal to get nutrients and protein into the body. If the doctor prescribes an anti-nausea drug, keep close tabs on how well it’s working, advocating for alternatives if needed.
The number of Americans with Alzheimer's is set to triple over the next 35 years. Approximately two-thirds of caregivers are adult women - typically wives or daughters of people with Alzheimer's. A growing number of teenagers and men, however, are finding themselves in a full-time caregiving role.
(BPT) - Michael Snowden was just 12 and his sister 16 when their mother began to exhibit symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. Although they didn't receive a definitive diagnosis until seven years later, the need to assume caregiving roles while still in their teens profoundly affected their lives.
"Not many people understood the disease or how to take care of her," Michael says. "We did not really understand the disease ourselves after the diagnosis. Eventually, my sister and I had to take over the caregiving responsibilities. Our lives quickly changed."
The number of Americans with Alzheimer's is set to triple over the next 35 years.
"Unless something is done to change its course, the Alzheimer's crisis will continue impacting not only the millions of Americans currently living with the disease, but their caregivers, friends and family," says Ruth Drew, director of family and information services for the Alzheimer's Association. "Caregiving can become anyone's reality. As the prevalence of the disease increases, more people from all walks of life, economic strata and ages will find themselves helping to support someone with Alzheimer's in the coming years."
Approximately two-thirds of caregivers are adult women - typically wives or daughters of people with Alzheimer's. A growing number of teenagers and men, however, are finding themselves in a full-time caregiving role.
"Facing early-onset Alzheimer's when my wife, Chris, was in her mid-40s was devastating," recalls Mark Donham, whose wife passed away from Alzheimer's in 2011 at the age of 54. "Since we did not have extended family nearby, I decided that I would quit my job and care for Chris full time. We had to live on savings, knowing our financial future would be difficult."
In addition to financial burdens, Alzheimer's caregivers can become so focused on their role that they neglect their own physical, mental, financial and emotional well-being. In fact, according to the Alzheimer's Association 2016 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures report, 20 percent of care contributors sacrificed their own medical care by cutting back on doctor visits.
"My biggest challenge was trying to figure out 'how to take care of yourself' as your loved one declines," Donham says. For caregivers, he advises, "Be sure to take active steps to take care of yourself so that you can be the best possible caregiver for your loved one."
With more people becoming primary caregivers, the resources provided by the Alzheimer's Association are more critical than ever. Across the country, Alzheimer's Association chapters provide face-to-face services such as support groups and educational sessions within communities.
A professionally staffed 24/7 Helpline (800-272-3900) provides information and advice to more than 300,000 callers each year. Recognizing the growing diversity of Alzheimer's caregivers, the Helpline also provides translation services in more than 200 languages. The Alzheimer's and Dementia Caregiver Center, part of alz.org, offers a wealth of caregiving tips and resources at every stage of the disease. Online message boards and forums allow caregivers to connect with others facing similar challenges to share information, resources and find support at any time of day or night.
Support and information can be empowering, the Snowdens and Donham say.
"Understand the disease," Shanelle Snowden says. "Once you are able to educate yourself on the disease, you will be able to cope better and you will be able to take care of your loved one better."
Donham learned from others in the same situation. "Early on in Chris' disease, I developed coping strategies," Donham says. "I came to accept the disease, got connected to a support group, and educated myself as to the course of the disease and what help I would need to make sure Chris had the best care possible."
For people facing the task of becoming an Alzheimer's caregiver, Donham and Snowden offer some advice: Act early, before symptoms become severe.
"Face the diagnosis, and use the earliest times to get legal and financial matters in order," Donham says. "Connect with a support group so that you are not alone on the journey."
The Alzheimer's Navigator helps those facing the disease to determine their needs and develop an action plan. In addition to planning for the future, knowing the diagnosis early also enables the person with Alzheimer's to get the maximum benefit from available treatments and participate in clinical studies that help advance research. Alzheimer's Association TrialMatch connects individuals with Alzheimer's, caregivers, healthy volunteers and physicians with current studies.
"Cherish each and every moment with your loved one," Michael Snowden says. "Create moments of joy by doing the small things like sitting and watching TV together, listening to their favorite song or even just dancing. It will be something you'll always remember about that person, and not the negative things that come with the disease. Other people out there are going through the same thing. Remember, this was not a curse put upon you or your loved one; it is something that is making you a stronger person."
To learn more about Alzheimer's disease and resources for caregivers, visit www.alz.org.
37 million people in the United States suffer from overactive bladder (OAB) - it's more common than diabetes or asthma. OAB is an ongoing condition that may include having to go to the bathroom frequently, having to use the bathroom urgently and leaking urine. While not life threatening, OAB can negatively affect social activities, exercise and sleep. The National Association For Continence (NAFC) launched a new tool help people get a clear idea of their symptoms and the impact so they can better communicate these concerns to their doctor. It also can help people find a local incontinence expert who can work to restore their bladder function.
(BPT) - Sixty is a milestone for Carolyn Hampton and she's not shy about sharing her age because it's a tribute to how she's lived. She's more active than ever; she loves to dance and has even taken up tennis and running. None of this would have been possible a few years back because of her constant worry and concern about having an accident. Hampton's in charge now, but for years her bladder ran the show.
Hampton is not alone - 37 million people in the United States suffer from overactive bladder (OAB) - it's more common than diabetes or asthma. OAB is an ongoing condition that may include having to go to the bathroom frequently, having to use the bathroom urgently and leaking urine. While not life threatening, OAB can negatively affect social activities, exercise and sleep.
After years of not getting full relief with medications and suffering with the side effects, Hampton was unable to function because she woke every 45 minutes to use the bathroom. "My quality of life was terrible, but I'm a fighter and a two-time cancer survivor, so I wasn't going to let my bladder limit me," Hampton says. "I finally said, 'Enough,' and asked my primary care doctor what else she had for me and was sent to a urologist."
"Your quality of life is so much better when the bathroom doesn't have to be your number one priority. It's so freeing. People shouldn't be afraid to talk about their symptoms or ask for a referral if they aren't finding relief. It's critical to advocate for yourself," Hampton says.
OAB is thought to be caused by miscommunication between the bladder and brain. Hampton was ultimately prescribed an advanced therapy that worked for her by helping to address this miscommunication.
Similar to the breakdown in communication between the brain and bladder; there is often a communication gap between people dealing with OAB and physicians about its impact. Many suffers aren't comfortable bringing it up and physicians don't often ask about bladder health.
To bridge this gap, the National Association For Continence (NAFC) launched a new tool help people get a clear idea of their symptoms and the impact so they can better communicate these concerns to their doctor. It also can help people find a local incontinence expert who can work to restore their bladder function.
"There are many effective OAB treatments, yet the majority of those suffering are untreated. Our goal is to help people discover the right option for them, but the first step is communication," says Steven Gregg, Ph.D., executive director of the NAFC. "The better your health care provider understands the impact of your symptoms, the better they can help find an effective treatment."
Only one in eight Americans who have experienced loss of bladder control have been diagnosed and less than 33 percent of people with incontinence and OAB symptoms seek treatment. Many sufferers revolve their lives around their bladder, but often don't realize how much they are doing to cope - mapping bathrooms, refraining from drinking, wearing dark clothing and avoiding socializing.
In a recent NAFC survey of 356 people experiencing bladder control issues, 66 percent of respondents said their urination issues affected their sleep. More than 50 percent also reported a loss of confidence. The survey results also showed bladder control issues had a serious impact on other important areas including travel, intimacy, and ability to be active.
Among women who have not discussed OAB with a physician, embarrassment was a top reason cited, in addition to fear of being told it's a natural part of aging and thinking nothing can be done.
While many advanced therapies are available, less than five percent of respondents have ever heard of them. It's critical that patients find an incontinence expert to help find the right solution for them.
"I'm thrilled that my doctor listened to me and helped me find an effective solution. It took courage to open up about what has been a 'hush-hush' issue, but the freedom it gave me means so much to me," says Hampton.
Visit www.everydayfreedom.com/nafc to take the bladder control quiz, learn how to talk to your health care provider and find an incontinence expert in your area.
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