High health literacy can help baby boomers achieve one of their biggest goals: to thrive while growing older. By being equipped with the necessary information, baby boomers can make strategic decisions and remain in full control of their future. This is why they must prioritize improving health literacy just as much as saving money for retirement and securing long term care coverage.
Independence is a big issue among the older generations because no one wishes to rely on other people during the twilight years. However, not many people realize just how much work planning for retirement and long term care needs require.
The future remains uncertain for many of the older generations; they and their families have had to make sacrifices in order to maintain a certain quality of life. This is why the younger baby boomers must do all that they can to cover all the bases now.
Health Literacy Defined
As defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health literacy is the “degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions.”
This pertains to a person’s ability to communicate their needs to health professionals, like doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and health workers, and participate in finding possible solutions. Moreover, this talks about an individual’s ability to process and understand the situation he or she is in to provide useful information and services.
Health literacy is not just limited to the care-related decisions in hospitals; it goes beyond that. This also involves the ability to find, process, and understand information about long term care to make strategic decisions about the finances and coverage.
How Are Aging Americans Doing?
Admittedly, the results of various studies are not favorable. According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy:
- 77 million Americans have inadequate health literacy
- Only 12% have high health literacy to manage and prevent diseases
- 71% of adults older than 60 years old have difficulty in using print materials
- 80% find documents, such as forms and charts, difficult to manage
- 68% find interpreting numbers and doing calculations difficult
Moreover, a recent study by the AP-NORC Center points out that nearly 4 out of 10 Americans mistakenly assume that Medicare will cover their long term care needs and one-third of their respondents have done no planning at all for these expenses. As the AMA-MSS Subcommittee on Health Literacy points out, low health literacy leads to unnecessary high care costs. In many circumstances, it can even mean higher mortality rates.
How to Determine if You Have Low Health Literacy
Understandably, many do not realize that their health literacy is not at par with their peers. However, the first step in addressing the issue is to identify if the problem does exist. As cited by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, here are some of the red flags:
- Inability to complete registrations forms
- Inability to name medications and dosage or explain purpose
- Inability to give sequential history
- Lack of follow-through on tests and referrals
Moreover, baby boomers can also note the following:
- Difficulty in understanding the terms and concepts in documents and consultations
- Trouble in expressing health and long term care needs and preferences
- Struggle with understanding and explaining the coverage of their health and long term care insurance policies
A Guide to Self Improvement
The urgency to improve one’s health literacy cannot be stressed enough. Baby boomers who are in the midst of planning for long term care and retirement must be more proactive in increasing their knowledge about this new world they are about to tackle.
So, if you are a baby boomer aiming to give your health literacy a boost, here are a few strategies you can apply today:
Stay updated through research
Perhaps, this is the most commonly-used piece of advice, but it is worth mentioning each time. Research the concepts that you find confusing. Take advantage of the abundance of information at the ends of your fingertips. Remember that the right set of knowledge can be the most powerful tool in keeping independence and staying in control of the future.
Also, be sure to learn extensively about any health conditions that might come your way. Look into your family tree and see the possibilities, and then begin planning there. Which services would you most likely require in the future? How much would these cost in your area or in the location you wish to retire? Which types of coverage would work best for your circumstances and budget? By answering these questions, you take one step to achieving your goal.
Get information from reliable resources
Finding the necessary information is not just as simple as typing a question in the search bar of your browser. Remember that anyone can post online and make them appear as facts. This could lead to confusion and substantial mistakes that could affect your future.
When researching, make it a point to verify the claims stated in the post you are reading. Cross check it with reliable resources such as websites with .gov or .org domain extensions. Also, refer to studies, statistics, and reports that present hard facts, and be sure that these are the latest ones.
Start a conversation among peers
The baby boom generation is known for their numbers. In total, the country houses 76 million individuals age 55 and older. All of these people are gearing up to face the challenges that come with long term care and retirement. And there is a high chance that many of these people have their own retirement and long term care planning tips to share. Can you imagine the information and resources you can get just from your own circle of friends?
This is why encouraging the discussion about this topic among your peers is vital. After all, discourse can open the doors to many opportunities, so try to start the conversation with the people closest to you. Trade updates and plans, and see if you can apply some of their strategies to your own situation. In doing so, you get to help each other out and build a community of baby boomers prepared for the future.
Establish connections with industry professionals
Your long term care and retirement needs are uniquely your own. Chances are your peers, loved ones, and even family members have different challenges that they would address on their own. Yes, articles, studies, and reports are significantly helpful, but they often pertain to the general public. You would need specific information to personalize your approach to long term care and retirement.
This is the reason why consulting with industry professionals is also vital. In doing so, you get to have a dialogue with people who are well-versed in the industry you are trying to learn. You get to ask the questions that are unique to your circumstances and have the confusion concepts clarified. Moreover, you get to have access to solutions that you may not have previously known about.
Be proactive by setting an appointment with financial experts and retirement planning professionals as well as health and long term care insurance. View this as an active step to improve your health literacy.
The Benefits of Being Proactive
It is no secret that many older adults are struggling with retirement and long term care. Many have run out of funds after spending so much on services they could have previously planned for. The reality is that being an American is expensive, and more so if you are nearing the retirement years. The expenses are through the roof, and only a few are able to manage these efficiently. Improving your health literacy can remove substantial amounts of stress from your shoulders because you know how to address any of these expensive issues effectively.
Take long term care insurance policies as an example. These products have deemed as unnecessary costs. Yet, those who have secured a policy previously are stating that these plans have been reliable in paying for their high care costs. In fact, 90% have stated that they are “satisfied” with the coverage of their policies.
Yes, long term care insurance policies come can cost money, especially if not managed properly. However, there are ways in which you can minimize the costs. You just need to research and consult with the right specialists. This means that comprehensive and affordable coverage is just within your means, you just have to know how to plan effectively.
Understandably, this can be overwhelming and confusing. So if you have any additional questions or clarifications about planning for long term care, please feel free to send us a message. We are more than happy to provide the assistance and support you need in addressing these concerns. Moreover, if you wish to secure coverage now, feel free to send us a request through our free long term care insurance quotes page. One of our insurance specialists will be in contact with you shortly.