The Key to Living a Longer, Fuller Life: Critical Illness Cover and a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health & Welfare | Winston Solicitors Skip to main content

Posted on 30 January 2024

The Key to Living a Longer, Fuller Life: Critical Illness Cover and a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health & Welfare

Posted in Advice

Read time: 7 minutes

One of the most impressive feats of humankind over the last 150 years has been the increase in human life expectancy. While advances in medical science are to be celebrated, populations living longer across the board comes with its own set of challenges. Not least of these is a rise in acute health issues. If you couple that with an expanding older population and a struggling national healthcare system, it reveals a glaringly obvious problem. The more who survive and the longer we all live, the more healthcare we need and the more it’s going to hit us financially.  

Never has it been more important to plan for what lies ahead.  

Living for Longer Increasingly Requires Critical Illness Cover

The reason people are living longer is due to a combination of factors and advancements in healthcare, lifestyle, and socioeconomic conditions.  

The big contender here is an improvement in medicine and healthcare. Our progress in antibiotics and vaccination research for life-threatening conditions has meant that fewer people die from illnesses that were previously considered fatal. Along with improved surgical techniques for intrusive operations, we now have much better understanding of the human body. As well as improved management techniques for chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. It means that people who may have died younger are now living into old age because they’re able to successfully manage their health conditions.

There are also other factors that contribute to a higher life expectancy, such as better sanitation and hygiene, which reduces the spread of disease. Lifestyle changes, such as a reduction in smoking rates, and a deeper knowledge of nutrition also play a key role.

But where serious illness is now more survivable and manageable, there lies the issue of longer-term healthcare. We can monitor and manage our conditions, and survival rates after surgery are higher, but it can mean that we are far more likely to live for longer periods of time with chronic disease. Surviving a critical illness is one thing, but if you are unable to return to “life as normal” following diagnosis and treatment, how would that affect your lifestyle? This is where critical illness cover becomes a necessity for quality-of-life care.  

The Dangers of Not Planning for the Future of Your Health 

On the surface, a longer lifespan may seem like an entirely positive thing. Who doesn’t want more time? More time to spend with your loved ones and tick those activities off your bucket list. You may even be fit to work until a ripe old age, leaving your pension benefits untouched for when you really need them. But are they alone enough to cover you as you get older? And what if you do become unable to work before your planned retirement age?

Longer life can be a strain on financial resources. You are likely to need more savings to support yourself in retirement than just your pension pots. You will no doubt need to spend money on healthcare costs too. Because the longer you live, the more likely you are to experience critical illnesses and long-term multi-morbidity conditions.  

Why Would I Need Critical Illness Cover When I'm Super Fit and Healthy?

You may feel that you are in good health right now, and therefore unlikely to suffer from long-term sickness in later life. This may be the case, but there's no crystal ball to predict the future, especially not when it comes to health. Too often people aren’t aware of the sheer number of things that can go wrong with their health at any time. Whether you’re generally healthy or not, your body won’t always behave how you expect it to. And that’s before you take into consideration severe road traffic incidents, accidents at work and the myriad ways that you can become harmed or disabled from external sources.

If you haven’t considered being out of work and paying out of pocket for healthcare, you could find yourself in a very difficult situation. How will you cover the mortgage? Can you afford to make modifications to your house to accommodate a long-term health issue? Who will cover the energy and food bills? What about relaying on out-sourced help for household chores? Critical illness cover may just be the best foot forward for all of us.

The Stats on Longevity and Critical Illness Are In 

If you’re still unsure as to whether critical illness cover is right for you, just look at the numbers. There have been several studies in recent years addressing cases of chronic illness in the UK. Did you know that:

  • 2.3 million people are living with a coronary heart disease in the UK
  • Nearly 3 million people in the UK are suffering from multi-morbidity illnesses.
  • There are around 367,000 new cancer cases in the UK every year (that’s around 1,000 every day)
  • Almost 11,700 people are diagnosed each year with a primary brain tumour, including 500 children and young people (that’s 32 people every day)
  • 24% of people in the UK are disabled
  • There are 126,247 vehicle collisions every year in the UK (that’s 346 every day)

I’m Too Young to Be Thinking About this Right Now

By 2040, it is predicted that 9.1 million people in the UK will be living with major health conditions. And a further 15 million with manageable chronic conditions.  

It’s a common misconception that people suffering from these illnesses are above the age of 55. But the reality is that it’s people of all ages who find themselves with these critical illnesses.

  • The average age range for cardiomyopathy (a general term for diseases of the heart muscle) is between 31 and 50.  
  • Degenerative conditions, such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease are most commonly discovered between the ages of 44 and 56.  
  • Liver problems, such as liver resection (where cancer has spread from another part of the body), or liver failure are more likely to happen after age 36.
  • Brain conditions are most likely to be diagnosed in those who are in their 30s.
  • Younger people, too, are more likely to be in vehicle accidents, but especially where any kind of bike is involved.

This is why it’s important to make sure you not only take care of yourself at the moment, but plan now to look after yourself as you get older too.  

Lasting Power of Attorneys for Health and Critical Illness Cover Puts Your Mind at Ease

In addition to taking out critical illness cover, it’s also important to make sure that you secure a Lasting Power of Attorney.  

It’s difficult to consider how it would be to lose capacity when you are in the peak of health. That’s why it’s important to plan for that eventuality while you still have the luxury of sound mind. Your critical illness cover will help you to live a full life while you are still able. But if you need someone to step in and help with medical decisions and/or financial obligations, you must be sure that it is someone you trust who can take the pressure off and make those difficult decisions on your behalf.

Setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney means that you know who will be the one to look after you and your assets should you become incapacitated, for any reason. You can even split the duties and choose different attorneys to look after your finances and health. Without a lasting power of attorney, if the worst should happen and you are no longer mentally capable of looking after yourself, your loved ones may have to apply for deputyship. It can be a long and expensive process.  

Becoming a burden on your loved ones either through ill-health or incapacity isn’t something that anyone wants for their future. That's why planning now for whatever comes your way gives you peace of mind. So no matter what happens, you can rest assured that you’re fully covered.

Legal Advice on Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Wellbeing

We recommend that you get legal advice from a specialist solicitor. Winston Solicitors offers expert guidance on how to secure a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Wellbeing. To talk to a qualified expert, please contact our Wills and Probate team on 0113 320 5000, or email @email.

Expert Financial Advice on Critical Illness Cover

We can also help with recommending a critical illness cover expert. For a no obligation consultation, contact FatGreen Consulting* on 0333 366 0988 or email @email.

This blog is intended for guidance purposes only and does not constitute financial advice. Each critical illness policy will have specified conditions which it covers and a financial adviser can provide you with more detail on this subject.

*The products and services promoted here are not part of The Openwork Partnership offering and are offered in our own right. The Openwork Partnership accept no responsibility for this aspect of our business.