More and more senior citizens and those nearing retirement are buying Life insurance these days. Many of these people are worried that their spouse will run out of money if they die; while others hope to make up for losses suffered in the stock market decline.
An increasing number of Life insurers require testing the cognitive abilities of older applicants, in addition to taking a physical exam. Some companies make it standard practice to test applicants 60 years or older, while others begin testing at age 70 or 80.
The reason: cognitive impairment has a high correlation with early mortality. A study by the Alzheimer’s Association found than 60% of people with Alzheimer’s at age 70 will probably die before they turn 80, compared to 30% of those who don’t have the disease. Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S., with fatalities soaring by 66% between 2000 and 2008 – a period during which deaths from other illnesses, such as breast cancer and heart disease, fell.
Because there can be a genetic component to Alzheimer’s, some experts believe that Life insurance applications will soon include questions about the cognitive abilities of family members (as they already do about a family history of cancer or cardiac disease). Bear in mind that the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic resulted in adding questions about HIV/AIDS to Life applications.
This focus on cognitive impairment among senior applicants offers one more reason for consumers to buy Life insurance when they’re young, in good health, and can benefit from lower rates.