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Why Alzheimer's should factor into your retirement plan

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Updated: 1/25/2013 10:39 am

(BPT) - In an ideal world, you will retire and enjoy many years fulfilling your dreams and spending time with those you love the most. Your retirement years can be some of the happiest and most enjoyable years of your life. But while we all hope for the best outcome possible, it may be prudent for you to plan for the possibility that life may deal you a difficult hand.

Your retirement plan should address the very real possibility that a chronic illness could strike - whether it's you, your spouse or another loved one that's affected. For many retirees, there is a good chance the chronic illness they may face later in life will be Alzheimer's disease.

Today, more than 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer's and nearly half of people 85 and older have Alzheimer's. So, while living well past your retirement age is desirable to practically everyone, living a long life does come with challenges.

The financial costs associated with Alzheimer's

Put frankly, Alzheimer's is an expensive disease to deal with. According to the Alzheimer's Association, payments for care associated with Alzheimer's totaled $200 billion in 2012. That's just for care related directly to treating the patient; it does not factor in lost wages or other expenses loved ones may incur when caring for the person with Alzheimer's. And care received in a nursing home or assisted living facility can easily run $3,000 a month or more, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The good news is that planning ahead can help put you in a position where you can afford chronic care. It should be part of any discussion you may have concerning life insurance and chronic care needs in retirement.

'A plan for dealing with the costs of chronic care needs to be implemented before you develop Alzheimer's or another chronic disease,' says Dr. Robert Pokorski, chief medical strategist for The Hartford's life insurance programs.

The Hartford offers a couple of optional add-ons to its life insurance policies that are designed to help retirees combat costs associated with chronic care. The LifeAccess Accelerated Benefit Rider(R), for example, allows an individual who becomes certified as chronically ill and satisfies the terms of the rider to access the death benefit in the insurance policy, and the benefit can be used for both medical and non-medical expenses.

You are not powerless in fighting Alzheimer's

'It's important to remember that while there's no known cure for Alzheimer's, living a heart-healthy lifestyle can help delay the onset of the disease,' Dr. Pokorski says. He offers this 'AGELESS' prescription for living a long, healthy life:

Attitude - see the glass as half full

Good medical care - see your doctor regularly

Exercise - it has mental benefits as well as physical

Learn - exercise your brain by learning new skills, playing games, reading, traveling, engaging in hobbies and interests

Eat right - eat a balanced diet to help maintain a reasonable weight, cholesterol level and blood pressure

Sleep - try to get at least eight hours each night

Socialize - spend time with friends and loved ones

No one wants to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's, but lifestyle and financial decisions you make today can help you avoid many of the hardships that come along with it. For more information on life insurance policies and riders that can help you plan for a financially secure retirement, visit www.hartfordinvestor.com/livingbenefits.

EDITOR'S NOTE:

The LifeAccess Accelerated Benefit Rider(R) is supplementary to the primary need for death benefit protection and is available at issue for an additional cost. Licensed health care practitioner certification of chronic illness must recur annually and must state the insured is in need of services under a plan of care that is likely to be needed for life. The Rider may not cover all of the costs associated with the chronic illness of the insured. Receiving benefits under the rider will reduce the death benefit available to the policy's beneficiaries. Rider benefits may be taxable depending on the owner's particular circumstances. A tax adviser should be consulted.

"The Hartford" is The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. and its subsidiaries, including the life insurance issuing companies of Hartford Life Insurance Company (New York) and Hartford Life and Annuity Insurance Company (outside New York), Simsbury, CT. The mailing address for both issuers is P.O. Box 2999, Hartford, CT 06104-2999.

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