I love the Olympics; I’m one of the billions of people worldwide who’ve been breathlessly watching these events. I considered why the Games have such universal appeal.  My guess is there are multiple reasons for their popularity, with pure patriotism and support of one’s country topping the list. And, of course, there are those who value the general spirit of competition.

For many of us, the athletes’ relentless dedication to the preparation required to reach their goal is almost beyond comprehension; for me, their passion is the very essence of the Olympics. With compelling enthusiasm regardless of the sacrifice, they persevere through the many hurdles that come their way. I love the stories of how they arrived at this peak level of performance.

No doubt they could not accomplish this without a strong support team. The coaches are obviously to be recognized; I’m sure that victory is just as sweet for them as for the individual athlete. But equally important is the emotional support that comes from the athletes’ families and friends, as well as their teammates. Recognizing the importance of family, the Olympics provides a “home-away-from-home setup” for the athletes’ families—a place they can carry on their everyday lives—do their laundry, get their hair done, etc. This is partly to help keep the athletes focused, and prevent them from worrying whether their family is OK. Family is important.

But wait!  How am I going to tie the Olympics to preparing to live a long life, you ask?  FAMILY and PREPARATION is the connection—the tie that binds.

Whether preparing for the Olympics or preparing to live a long life, planning is the key. When we love our family, we embrace our commitment to support and protect them in the event we experience an extended health care event. In practical terms, this dedication translates to the willingness to engage in “the conversation”— to determine if a transfer of risk is needed to protect our families and finances. And thus, a Plan is created.

Benjamin Franklin said, “Beware of little expenses, a small leak will sink a great ship.” My position is this:  Some coverage of protection is better than none.  There is no right or wrong Long Term Care Plan; it depends on what’s right for you. Often, affordability drives the decision of how much risk to transfer; even a small amount of coverage (a “Good” plan) could keep your ship from sinking.

Currently, Long Term Care Specialists use what’s known as the “Good, Better, Best” strategy in the plan assessment and conversation. Let’s review this strategy, but just this once, in the spirit of the Olympics, let’s use the terms “Bronze,” “Silver,” and “Gold” interchangeably with the terms “Good, Better, Best:“

A Bronze Plan is a cost-share strategy. At inception, you acknowledge that the coverage you have will most likely not cover all your expenses. This approach is often embraced by the affluent—people who are confident they can self-insure but prefer not to be on the hook completely, especially if they experience a lengthy Long Term Care event. A Bronze plan is also commonly adopted by people who can’t afford a plan with greater coverage—which they’d really prefer—so they opt for this basic design because they realize the value in not having to come up with the entire cost of their care out-of-pocket, and thereby immediately start depleting their assets.

A Silver Plan represents a step up from the Bronze, in terms of the benefits available. The Silver plan design is a common choice for consumers who accept the premise that the need for long term care is a real risk, yet are comfortable with a moderate level of protection. They assume they could potentially have to share in some of the cost. Additionally, this strategy is utilized when affordability drives the decision. In other words, “Buy what you can afford; you should not implement a plan that from the start is a strain financially.”

A Gold Plan provides a benefit package that will likely cover most, if not all of your expenses. We often find that the consumers or planners who seek this level of protection are people whose lives have been impacted in some way by a long term care event, and as a consequence they realize the potential devastation that can result. The Gold approach acknowledges that although one can’t be guaranteed their coverage will cover the entire expense, it most likely will provide for the lion’s share.

For an athlete, participating in the Olympics—whether they earn a medal or not—is a heroic achievement. The pride they feel— in having earned the opportunity to compete at the highest level of their sport as a result of their dedication and commitment to reach their goal— should inspire and impact the rest of their lives.

Many aspiring young athletes will catch the Olympic fever while watching the games this month; they may already have set a lofty goal of planning to become an Olympic athlete.  Having watched this “Olympic Effect” play out in many instances over the years, we know that for these athletes, their FAMILY and PREPARATION will be key.

My wish is that the “Olympic Effect” will impact people planning to live a long life.  And there too, FAMILY and PREPARATION is the key— the tie that binds.