Wisdom isn’t the only thing that comes with age. So does the potential for increased health problems, including concerns about whether the heart is doing its job the way it’s supposed to.
For many older Americans, it’s not. People 65 and older are much more likely to suffer a heart attack, to have a stroke, or to develop coronary heart disease and heart failure, according to the National Institute on Aging.
But beyond the physical costs to a person’s health, the financial cost of heart problems – especially a heart attack – also can be staggering, says Chris Orestis, a senior issues advocate and an authority on retirement and long-term care planning.
Heart attack patients pay an average of $21,500 for a hospital stay, and in some cases that price can rise to as much as $100,000. But the blow to the pocketbook doesn’t stop once the patient is released to go home.
“There’s more than just the hospital costs, as expensive as those are,” says Orestis, who is president of Retirement Genius (www.retirementgenius.com). “They are just the beginning. There are also costs associated with medication and with post-hospital care, not to mention potential lost wages if you are still working.”
February is American Heart Month, a good time for seniors and anyone else to take time to consider their heart health and the potential drain on their savings from a major medical emergency if they aren’t careful, Orestis says. The National Business Group on Health once tallied up the average total cost for everything and determined that a severe heart attack could cost as much $1 million.
“Basically, it’s like you can afford either a Ferrari or a heart attack in retirement, but not both,” Orestis says.
Of course, one way to potentially avoid those costs is to maintain good health. The CDC recommends eating a healthy diet, keeping a healthy weight, exercising regularly and avoiding smoking as among the ways to lower your risk of heart disease and a heart attack.
According to the CDC, the major symptoms of a heart attack are chest pain or discomfort; feeling weak, light-headed, or faint; pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back; pain or discomfort in one or both arms or shoulders; and shortness of breath.
As a nation, we don’t always avoid heart problems. Every year, about 805,000 people in the U.S. suffer a heart attack, which comes to a heart attack about every 40 seconds. And beyond the costs to individuals, the CDC reports that heart disease costs the United States as a whole about $363 billion each year.
“One of the smartest financial investments a person can ever make is in protecting their health,” Orestis says. “The costs of healthcare and long-term care can be financially devastating.”
About Chris Orestis
Chris Orestis, CSA, president of Retirement Genius (www.retirementgenius.com), is a retirement and long-term care planning expert, senior issues advocate, and author. Orestis, who has over 25 years’ experience in the insurance and long-term care industries, also created the use of life settlements for long-term care purposes. Known as a political insider and senior issues advocate, Orestis is a former Washington, D.C., lobbyist who has worked in both the White House and for the Senate Majority Leader on Capitol Hill. In 2007 he founded Life Care Funding, and in 2017 he founded the LifeCare Xchange. Chris Orestis is author of the books Help on the Way and A Survival Guide to Aging. A third book, Retire Like a Genius, is in the works. He has been speaking for two-decades across the country about senior finance and the secrets to aging with financial and physical health and dignity.In 2019, Chris was named one of the 20 most innovative people in the life insurance industry by the National Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies (NAILBA). He has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, NBC News, Fox News, USA Today, Kiplinger’s, Investor’s Business Daily, AARP, PBS, and numerous other media outlets, is a frequent columnist for NewsMax Finance, Broker World, ThinkAdvisor, IRIS, and has been a guest expert on over 50 radio programs and TV appearances.