Why are Canadians avoiding their long term care planning?



    New survey shows only one in five factor long term care into their
    retirement plans

    TSX/NYSE/PSE: MFC; SEHK: 0945

    WATERLOO, ON, Nov. 8 /CNW/ - A survey for Manulife Financial reveals that
seven out of 10 Canadians said they would prefer to have an annual physical
exam than spend an hour discussing their long term care needs. This reluctance
in discussing their future long term care needs helps explain why only 21 per
cent of Canadians have factored long term care costs into their retirement
planning.
    Dr. Rubin Becker, MD, FRCP(c), a recognized Canadian gerontologist,
explains that avoiding long term care planning is common - particularly as
people must account for the possibility that they or their partner could
experience deteriorating physical or mental health as they age.
    "It's rare to see people plan for their long term care needs. Many
recognize they will require help, yet few can actually visualize it. And, many
Canadians find care costs are much higher than ever imagined," explains
Dr. Becker.
    While Canadians prefer to side-step the long term care discussion, they
are not without worries about their future care. Fifty-seven per cent are
concerned that they or their partner may need to go into a care facility in
the future and are worried about their ability to pay for it. Moreover, 51 per
cent fear becoming a burden to their family.
    "The reality is that we're living longer, having fewer children to depend
on, and there is a strong likelihood of needing long term care someday,
especially if we live to age 85. Planning for our long term care needs should
help ease worries," continues Dr. Becker. "Appropriate planning increases our
ability to secure care, allowing us to remain at home for as long as possible
in old age and it provides for a better quality of life, if and when
facility-based care is needed."
    The lack of planning doesn't come from a lack of personal experience with
long term care. The survey found that 38 per cent of respondents reported
having already provided long term care assistance to a family member or
friend, mostly in the form of hands-on care. The greatest personal sacrifice
in offering this assistance was "time loss."

    How Canadians fare in long term care planning
    ---------------------------------------------
    The Manulife Financial survey provided a number of insights about how
prepared Canadians are and their knowledge about long term care planning.

    
        ---------------------------------------------------------------------
        Canadians who:                                            Canadians
                                                                  Age 35 - 75
        ---------------------------------------------------------------------
        Are likely to use savings or retirement income to pay        80%
        for long term care (LTC), if needed
        ---------------------------------------------------------------------
        Are likely to rely on government programs for LTC            61%
        ---------------------------------------------------------------------
        Are likely to use equity from the home to cover LTC costs    53%
        ---------------------------------------------------------------------
        Believe employee group benefits plans usually cover LTC      51%
        ---------------------------------------------------------------------
        Factored LTC costs into retirement planning                  21%
        ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    

    Paul Smith, Vice President of Marketing and Product Development for
Manulife Financial's Individual Insurance area, points out that many Canadians
assume employee group benefits cover long term care costs, which is rarely the
case. "It's really important that Canadians know exactly what their benefit
plans and current insurance policies will cover when it comes to long term
care costs and plan accordingly for future care."
    Smith further explains that long term care costs can quickly deplete
retirement assets, especially for couples. "The impact on retirement savings
can be significant when you consider the costs of facility care for several
years, with after-tax retirement savings. One elderly partner may require
facility care, while the other remains at home, so selling the house to shore
up long term care funds is not always the most viable option. If retirement
savings become depleted due to facility care costs for one partner, the other
partner can find themselves without money to support their own care needs."

    Manulife Financial introduces LivingCare
    ----------------------------------------
    LivingCare is a long term care insurance product that provides a monthly
benefit for individuals or couples to help support the costs associated with
long term care. LivingCare provides the insured a monthly benefit rather than
requiring receipts for cost reimbursement.
    The person insured under the policy, or people acting under a power of
attorney, can direct the funds as needed to help pay for care - whether
delivered at home or within a care facility. A unique Shared Coverage option,
the first of its kind in Canada, is available to couples (married or
common-law). It allows them to share access to the coverage funds. For both
the Individual and Shared Coverage options, the benefit is doubled when
facility care is required to allow for the higher costs associated with this
kind of care.
    "In developing LivingCare, we leveraged the strength of Manulife
Financial as a global company and consulted with colleagues in our U.S.
operations, John Hancock, a company that has years of long term care insurance
expertise and a leadership position in the U.S. market," says Smith. "We also
took a number of Canadians' concerns into account in developing LivingCare.
Shared Coverage provides a more affordable option for couples to plan for long
term care needs. Each partner receives identical coverage under one policy and
one, or both, partners can draw from the amount of insurance. It's a Canadian
first."

    About Manulife Financial
    ------------------------
    Manulife Financial is a leading Canadian-based financial services group
serving millions of customers in 19 countries and territories worldwide.
Operating as Manulife Financial in Canada and Asia, and primarily through John
Hancock in the United States, the Company offers clients a diverse range of
financial protection products and wealth management services through its
extensive network of employees, agents and distribution partners. Funds under
management by Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were Cdn$410 billion
(US$386 billion) as at June 30, 2007.
    Manulife Financial is one of only two publicly traded life insurance
companies with 'AAA'-rated insurance subsidiaries, the highest rating for
financial strength at Standard & Poor's Rating Services.
    Manulife Financial Corporation trades as 'MFC' on the TSX, NYSE and PSE,
and under '0945' on the SEHK. Manulife Financial can be found on the Internet
at www.manulife.com.

    (1) Manulife Financial Survey 2007
    Manulife Financial commissioned Market Probe Canada to conduct a research
    survey among a random national sample of 1,008 Canadians. All respondents
    were between ages 35 and 75 with annual household incomes of $50,000 or
    more. Interviews were conducted between May 4 and 27, 2007. Results'
    margin of error: +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.





For further information:

For further information: Tom Nunn, Manulife Financial, (519) 594-8578,
tom_nunn@manulife.com; Maureen Meehan, Jennifer Meneses, PraxisPR, (905)
949-8255 (extensions 238/221), meehan@praxispr.ca, jennifer@praxispr.ca


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