The plight of well-known ex South African rugby player, Joost van der Westhuizen and his battle against Motor Neurone Disease has, of late, highlighted the illness and how it has affected his life as well as his family’s. Unfortunately, when impacted by a life threatening illness not many people have the necessary resources1 to manage the implications and recovery process when diagnosed
Of all dread diseases, cancer is probably one of the world’s most prevalent and often a driving factor for people to get financial protection. However, illnesses and ailments such as Crohn’s disease, organ transplants, multiple sclerosis and, Motor Neurone disease, can have serious detrimental and lasting effects not just on the sufferer, but also on the family, their finances and lifestyles.
1Life takes a look at 6 devastating dread diseases that affect people’s lives, which are covered by dread disease cover to assist financially with treatment, recovery or management of the ailment.
Cardiac Disease Cardiac disease affects the heart and is caused, in the most part, by an unhealthy lifestyle including smoking, excessive drinking, bad eating habits as well as high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.
If diagnosed, there are various treatment options, one of which is surgery. This surgery, consisting of either a Coronary Artery Bypass Graft or Aorta Graft Surgery or both, is expensive, and the lifestyle change needed could also have a negative effect on your financial standings as you may have to change your diet, start exercising and go for regular check-ups.
While the onset of heart disease is more common in those people who have a history of it in their family, it really can happen to anyone which is why cover is important as treatment options can cost millions1 and the need to make the right lifestyle changes is important to mitigate the risk. Frequent exercise, blood pressure control and reducing bad lifestyle habits can go a long way in avoiding heart disease.
Cerebrovascular ailmentsCommonly known as a stroke, cerebrovascular disease takes place when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted or reduced, it deprives the brain of oxygen and leads to a stroke - which can cause brain cells to die. This interruption is often caused by a blocked artery or a leaking blood vessel. However, strokes can also be exacerbated by the same lifestyle conditions as a heart attack and include diabetes, sleep apnoea and age, where those older than 55 are more at risk.
Depending on the severity of a stroke, a patient will experience significant lifestyle changes such as needing home-based care, having to purchase a specialised bed or medical equipment such as a wheel chair, etc. If you consider the medical expenses associated with a stroke, as well as the post stroke lifestyle changes that may need to be made, then the costs of a stroke can really wreak havoc on a family’s finances. In fact, the approximate cost of recovery is around R1.4 million over the lifetime of someone who has suffered a stroke later in life1.
Organ failure needing transplantGiven the nature of the procedure, and the pre and post medical care that is required, organ transplants2 are extremely costly. As an example, in the US, the average cost of a heart transplant, including other medical requirements that would be needed equates to approximately R13 million2. This shows that there is a serious need for families to ensure they are covered for the effects of organ transplants as such costs would possibly need to be covered from their own pockets.
Diseases of the Nervous systemDiseases of the Nervous system vary, however they usually result in the patient needing alternative care such as being looked after at home or in a specialised facility. The costs associated with these diseases are high. For example with Alzheimer’s3 it can cost approximately R840 0003 per year for specialised care. Home care, while cheaper, is also expensive costing around R178 796 per annum – dependant on hours worked per day and the services required.
Gastrointestinal diseasesUlcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease both affect the stomach and intestines and at best could result in ongoing medicinal and steroid treatment and at worst, can result in surgery to the gastrointestinal organs. Caused by changes in diet, stress, sedentary lifestyle, food intolerance or allergy, medications or simply a change in routine. The ailments can also result in some severe and/or costly life style changes especially if the ailment calls for a colostomy, in essence a hold in the stomach, connected to a bag outside the body that collects waste matter.
Connective TissueConnective tissue diseases, in many instances known as auto-immune disease, such as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Rheumatoid Arthritis range in terms of type and severity. However, almost all of them can have adverse effects on a family’s financial health and well-being – some more extreme than others. There are two main streams of connective tissue disease; those acquired via a genetic pre-disposition and those where external factors have played a part – usually as a result of a reaction against certain bodily components, as if they were a foreign substance.
A good financial plan should not only take care of your current monetary status but your future standings as well. Your planning should ensure that you and your loved ones are financially protected for unexpected events such as death, disability and dread disease. Taking the lifestyle and financial effects of the above into consideration, and especially if you have a predisposition to any of these ailments, it stands to reason that a good dread disease policy should be part of your financial plan to help manage the medical effects of disease as well as the financial implications.
ConclusionTake the time now to look at your family history and lifestyle and try to implement changes to live a healthier and more prosperous live. Also remember the importance of putting measures in place, such as purchasing a dread disease policy to take care of your loved ones should something happen to you. Not only will you have peace of mind, but your peace of mind will change the lives of those you love most.