November was Long Term Care Awareness Month.

So is January.

There are few financial issues more relevant to your clients (and, think about it: to your own personal life) than that of long-term care (LTC) and caregiving for themselves or loved ones.

Caregiving alone is one of the key initiatives on Capitol Hill and one of the biggest social issues of our time. It drives conversations around legislation, the for- and non-profit support groups, financial professionals, and families all across the nation.

The situation:

According to LongTermCare.gov, 70 percent of people turning age 65 can expect to use some form of long-term care during their lives, and others will need it at younger ages due to injury or illness. Interestingly, in Genworth’s Beyond Dollars study, analysts reported that almost half of care recipients (48 percent) had considered the possibility of the need for long-term care, but only 26 percent had actually made a plan to cover their potential needs.

The missing link for these consumers is you, driving the planning conversations that result in execution of strong and sound strategies for today and their future.

Market opportunity

Let’s consider that many consumers, and most likely many of your own clients, plan or intend to have a 19 year retirement window. Unfortunately, according to the AP-NORC Center’s long term care poll, of 40 and older adults, 54 percent are doing little or no long-term care planning.

Many of those non-planners are women.

Think about the average female in this country who will turn 65 this year: She has a one in three chance of living to the age of 90.

How important do you think it is to talk with women about lifestyle, income, the eventual reality of insufficient dollars to cover health care, other expenses and long-term care when that retirement window is actually 25 to 30 years in length?

In this country we are living longer than ever before which is the good news, but the bad news is we will do so with more chronic illnesses than ever before. The good news is that clients who understand the risks may be able to take active steps to manage the risks. The authors of a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study found that 95 percent of health care costs for older Americans are directly linked to chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and stroke.

Given the data from the studies mentioned in this blog, and the longevity numbers, you can see that creating strategies for your clients can no longer be put off. The time to begin proactive planning for long-term care, and trying to prevent and manage chronic disease risk, is now.

I receive at least 25 letters and emails a month about, “How do I sit down with my client and explain what long-term care insurance is?”

My answer is this: Stop telling them what long-term care insurance is and start telling them what it does. My company, for example, Genworth, recently launched a resource called The LTC Source which helps educate advisors about long-term care funding solutions for their clients.

If you feel you need more training, additional strategies, other insurance options for the individual with financial or physical barriers, visit this site and call upon your wholesalers who are the experts in providing solid support for this financial and emotional expense.

With consumers and producers demanding more choices, insurance companies are working hard to provide more efficient cost solution contracts for long-term care insurance (LTCI), group LTCI, chronic illness riders attached to life insurance, life policies with LTCI benefits, and annuities that will support the longevity that awaits so many.

This month and every month you have a unique opportunity to educate and inform people of the potential of a long-term care event in their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

Viable and appropriate structured living benefits for long-term care are available. Keep working toward finding the answers for clients who depend on you to give them the right information and proper financial platforms.

See also: 

Turkey time tradition: 4 year-end review strategies

3 critical steps: Help clients win the race against aging