Olympic gold medalist Wendy Lansbach Boglioli gave a thought-provoking talk last week at the New York State Society of CPAs’ Personal Financial Planning and Eldercare Conference about the importance of long-term care insurance.

Boglioli, now a motivational speaker and a national spokesperson for Genworth Financial, brought along her gold and bronze medals in swimming from the 1976 Montreal Games and talked about some of her own Olympian experiences. But more importantly she discussed how long-term care insurance had affected her own life and that of her family.

Women are often the primary caregivers, she pointed out, and they’re often the ones who make the decisions about buying these insurance plans. Over 21 percent of the women polled in a recent survey plan to buy long-term care insurance in the next three years. Worries about rising health care costs and the rising cost of living help fuel such purchases, not to mention concerns about Alzheimer’s and other afflictions.

Boglioli and her husband and former coach Bernie bought their policies 11 years ago when they were 42 years old. “When’s the best time to buy long-term care insurance?” she asked. “I always say 90 days before you need long-term care. But really the answer is, when you’re healthy. There’s no time like the present.”

Professionals can help advise clients on their financial planning, retirement planning and long-term care needs. But they also need to know what they’re doing because clients often place a great deal of trust, and money, with them. Boglioli recalled one colleague whose client entrusted him with $20 million to manage.

Worries about growing older influence many decisions about financial planning, whether it’s concerns about how to plan for a secure retirement or someone to look after you and your spouse in later years. Accountants can help clients take a realistic look at how they stand in case they ever need long-term health care. Unfortunately long-term care is one area where worst-case scenarios need to at least be considered, especially with medical costs climbing ever higher and government solutions nowhere in sight.

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