Strong Family Connections can Increase Life Expectancy

“The greatest gift you can give your family and the world is a healthy you” – Joyce Meyer

Over a century’s worth of research underscores the link between life expectancy, physical health and strong, healthy family connections. The researchers behind a new meta-analysis conclude family support can increase survival by up to 50 percent. Moreover, exercising or losing excess weight turns out to be less important to physical health than interpersonal social networks.

The researchers analyzed results of studies going back to the early 1900s with a total of 308,849 participants. Strong family connections were found to help improve health and extend life expectancy by protecting individuals from stressful situations or establishing a standard of healthy living. A significant body of literature shows positive family relationships can mitigate a variety of physiological processes associated with risk of illness, such as high blood pressure and poor immune system functioning.

For seniors, a supportive family member can mean the difference between life and death. When including genetic factors in lifespan estimates, we find family plays a more crucial role now than ever before. Close family connections impact the likelihood of mortality directly. A recent study, presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, showed that seniors that said they did not feel close to family members beyond their spouses were more than twice as likely to die within the next five years compared to those that did.

Mortality Rate and Life Insurance

A number of factors are implicated in a reduced mortality rate, which life insurance providers reflect. These include marital status, the size of the network of family members, and the level of closeness people feel to family members.

The Role of Genes in Life Expectancy

Life insurance providers recognize that their clients’ family members impact their lifespan not only through social interaction, but also genetically. Genetics help determine whether or not a senior will live beyond the average life span, which is 79 years for men and 83 years for women in Canada. Healthy genes can help protect older adults from heart disease, cancer, and other common illnesses. The above-mentioned study showed a person’s genes account for over a third of what will determine their lifespan. The other factors are the environment and lifestyle.

Studies show people don’t classify family ties in terms of their quality, meaning positive and negative associations are lumped together. We can therefore conclude that the benefit of positive family connections is probably even higher than reported. Generally, the influence of family relationships on mortality is complex and contingent upon the quality of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the health status of the person. A recent study published in the Journal of Social Science & Medicine found that people suffering from chronic illnesses who characterized their relationships with family members as close, but negative and demanding, actually experienced lower mortality rates than those who did not maintain close relationships with family members. Researchers speculate that the participants in this study are being observed closely by spouses and adult children and mandated to take better care of themselves, go for regular checkups, take their medication, or other interactions which they may be qualifying as “negative” and “demanding”.

Clients of Canadian life insurance companies go through underwriting when applying for coverage, which involves assessing the insurance risk. The obvious importance of social well-being for physical health is a part of that. Assessment will likely include inquiries into family and social circles and relationship quality in the near future.

US vs. Canada Life Expectancy

Data of the World Health Organization (WHO) show the average lifespan of Canadians is up to three years longer than that of their southern neighbors. This difference is apparent in a variety of illnesses. According to experts, one of the reasons Canadians live longer is because the quality of medical care is better in Canada than in the United States. Health clinics and insurance providers in the US tend to invest more funds in marketing than in medical staff.

However, this doesn’t seem to be the only factor. Americans in the lowest income brackets reported much more health problems than Canadians and cited cost as the main reason for unmet health needs. Canadians, on the other hand, were more likely to cite waiting times.

How Does Life Insurance Help?

The right choice of a Canadian life insurance company will ensure waiting time is brought down to a minimum in moments of need. Statistics show that a large number of Americans have moved to Canada and Canadians living in the US have moved back home because they have grown tired of fighting with insurance providers over coverage issues.

Life insurance can provide income and financial security for the loved ones you name as beneficiaries, helping them cover final expenses and outstanding debts. In addition to this, it can also support a stable financial plan in your lifetime. Permanent life insurance makes it possible to increase cash value within the insurance policy, which can help you attain financial goals, such as paying for your loved ones’ education or augmenting your retirement income.

Protect Your Family

Photo of young family

Protect your family with Life Insurance

Your top priority if you have dependants is to ensure that they are protected financially if you were to die or be unable to work for a prolonged period. Here we concentrate on the role that life insurance can play in your financial plan.

Bear in mind that not only the loss of a breadwinner’s salary could cause financial hardship: if you are caring for children, your spouse or partner might need to pay for professional childcare and/or babysitters if you were to die.

Similarly, you should take into account any extra costs of running the home, maintaining the garden, and so on. A nation-wide government survey found that housework, still done mainly by women today, takes up more hours each day than paid work.

How much life insurance is required for my family?

Having identified that you need some life insurance to protect your family, the next step is to work out how much. You might require a lump sum, for example to pay off the mortgage, as well as replacement income, which could be provided by life insurance which pays out a lump sum which you could invest to produce the required income.

Are Canadians Under-Insured?

According to the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association, more then 20 million Canadians are protected by life insurance with an average amounts owned were $156,200 for insured individuals and $312,200 for insured households.

That leaves approximately 30% of individuals without important insurance protection as well insured households only having an average amount of $312,200 of life insurance, this could represent many families being under-insured in Canada.

Creating awareness around the need for life insurance is paramount there are many brokers and insurance agencies in Canada available to help with your insurance needs, call a insurance professional whether you are protecting your family your business there is help out there.

Author: Peter C. Choma an insurance specialist with Solutions Financial

Reference: Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association. 2008 Edition of Canadian Life and Health Insurance Facts http://www.clhia.ca/e3a.htm

The Importance Of Life Insurance For The Stay-at-home Spouse

The loss of a stay-at-home parent is emotionally devastating for a family. Unfortunately, it can cause serious financial difficulties, as well. That’s why it’s important for stay-at-home spouses to have life insurance protection.

Some families choose to have one parent work outside the home while the other stays home to take care of children. Other families are forced into such a situation by limited childcare availability or other circumstances. In either case, most people would agree that the wage earner in any family should have life insurance protection. After all, how would the family survive without a breadwinner’s income?

What about the Spouse at Home?
If something were to happen to a stay-at-home spouse, it would be emotionally devastating for the surviving spouse and children. There are, of course, many emotional repercussions of such a tragic loss to a family. But there could also be a tremendous financial impact, as well.

During the difficult adjustment time, there could be a real need for someone to help out in caring for the children and home. Often, friends or relatives will step in to assist during the first few crucial weeks. But eventually, they will need to return to their regular lives — and the surviving spouse will need to return to work. At that point, the only recourse may be to hire professional services. And this could present a financial hardship.

The Value of the Homemaker
While everyone recognizes the vital role of the family homemaker, few people stop to think about the literal value of the services performed by the stay-at-home spouse. This includes childcare, looking after the home, preparing meals, and many other time consuming activities, like carpooling, laundry and grocery shopping.

Today, the cost of childcare for preschoolers in this country can be as high as $8,840 a year, depending on where you live.1 It’s even higher for infants and toddlers. The financial equivalent of the vital services a stay-at-home spouse provides can amount to tens of thousands of dollars a year.

That’s why it’s important for a stay-at-home spouse to have his or her own life insurance protection. It’s hard enough for a family to deal with the emotional repercussions of losing a parent/spouse. It shouldn’t be compounded by having to grapple with the financial hardships such a loss can bring, as well.

How Much Life Insurance Do You Need?
There are no hard and fast rules for determining how much life insurance is enough, because no two families have exactly the same needs or resources. As a general rule of thumb, though, the appropriate amount of insurance protection could equal up to an individual’s annual salary times the number of years before the youngest child is out of college, depending on other available income or resources. When calculating an amount for a stay-at-home spouse, the annual financial value of the services they provide should be used.

Let’s say you determine that the financial value of the services a stay-at-home spouse provides for your family equals $50,000 a year. If your youngest child will finish college in 15 years, the appropriate amount of insurance protection for the stay-at-home spouse could be as much as $750,000, depending on other available income or resources. Some other things you might consider in determining an insurance amount include funeral costs, medical expenses, probate fees, estate taxes and inflation

Don’t Overlook the Homemaker
It can be very easy to overlook the financial contributions of a stay-at-home spouse — that is, until the person is gone. If you or your spouse decide to remain at home to care for your children, don’t forget that the contribution of the stay-at-home spouse can equal tens of thousands of dollars a year. The loss of a parent is hard enough on a family; purchasing insurance coverage for a stay-at-home spouse can help ensure that it doesn’t become a financial hardship as well.