Evercare(R) Survey Finds Long-Term Illness Along with Religion and Politics Ranks High on List of 'Taboo' Subjects: Informing of Cheating Spouse or Loaning Large Sums of Money Preferred to Giving Health Advice to Friend or Loved One

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The Evercare(R) Survey: Chronic Illness, Chronic Silence, released today, showed that we can add "giving advice on managing a long-term or advanced illness" to the list of subjects Americans are reluctant to discuss with a friend or loved one. The new survey finds that Americans are as unlikely to talk to a friend or loved one about better managing a chronic illness as they are to discuss politics or religion. Evercare is one of the nation's largest care health coordination programs for people who have long-term or advanced illness, are older or have disabilities.

Friends and loved ones of those suffering from a long-term or advanced illness need to realize the important role they can play in helping those with chronic illness to lead healthier, longer and more productive lives

    The Evercare Survey: Chronic Illness, Chronic Silence found that 82 percent of respondents said they know someone with a long-term or advanced illness (also known as "chronic illness"), but only 34 percent are likely to suggest ways for this person to better manage their care. Nearly the same number said that they would debate religious differences (33 percent) with a friend or loved one or argue about politics (37 percent). Additionally, 56 percent of Americans are more likely to loan friends or loved ones a large amount of money, advise them against taking a job they didn't think was right (48 percent) and tell them their spouse was unfaithful (41 percent).

"Friends and loved ones of those suffering from a long-term or advanced illness need to realize the important role they can play in helping those with chronic illness to lead healthier, longer and more productive lives," said Dr. John Mach, CEO of Evercare. "Evercare knows how important communication is for members and their family members and the results of this survey show that everyone needs to be vigilant in holding these discussions with their loved ones with chronic illness, no matter how hard they may be."

Evercare has extensive experience in working with people living with chronic conditions such as heart disease, asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and dementia and conducted the survey to better understand how Americans communicate challenging issues. As a leading provider of Special Needs Plans in the continental U.S., Evercare recognizes the need for communications from loved ones to help individuals with chronic illness manage their conditions effectively through coordinated health care.

The Evercare Survey: Chronic Illness, Chronic Silence was conducted via telephone among 1,043 adults. The survey found Americans are reluctant to offer advice because they think their friend or relative with the chronic illness has the situation under control (66 percent); because they are not a health care professional (31 percent); or because they don't want to seem like a 'nag' (31 percent) or rude (29 percent). Twenty-seven percent said the person would not listen to them and a surprising 15 percent of respondents said the matter just wasn't that important.

Other important findings of the Evercare Survey: Chronic Illness, Chronic Silence include:

-- 65 percent said they would discourage a friend or loved one from buying the wrong house.

-- 49 percent would tell someone close to them they were dating the wrong person.

-- 41 percent would tell a friend or loved one a spouse is unfaithful.

-- Only five percent of respondents said the easiest person to give advice to about health issues is their father; for 13 percent of respondents it is their mothers. Their spouse ranked highest (23 percent) followed by a child (20 percent).

-- Most people would prefer to receive advice about managing a chronic illness from a healthcare professional (67 percent), followed by a spouse (10 percent) or parent (7 percent). However, men are twice as likely as women (14 percent and 7 percent, respectively) to prefer that advice about a chronic illness come from a spouse.

-- Men have an easier time offering health advice to their spouse (28 percent) than women (19 percent) and women have an easier time offering health advice to their children (24 percent) than men (16 percent).

-- More than a third of respondents reported that the person closest to them with a chronic illness is a parent (34 percent); for 14 percent of respondents it is a spouse. Eleven percent said a friend, 8 percent a sibling, 6 percent a child and 16 percent another relative.

Tips for Helping a Loved One or Friend Manage Their Chronic Illness

With caregivers reluctant to discuss chronic illness with their loved ones, many of these chronic illness sufferers could face even greater obstacles to improved health. Nurse Practitioners and Care Managers, who are at the heart of Evercare's health coordination for those with chronic illness, offer the following tips for caregivers on how to talk to a friend or loved one who has a chronic illness:

-- Understand their goals. Talk to your friends or loved ones to help understand their goals. Get the conversation started by discussing events or activities that they used to participate in and miss or something in the future they would like to be a part of such as attending a family reunion. You can help them meet these goals by discussing them with health care providers, doctors or community service agencies.

-- Appoint an ambassador. Think carefully about the friend or family member your loved one with chronic illness feels most comfortable speaking with and respects enough to heed his or her advice. Ask that person to serve as an unofficial "ambassador" to discuss your friend or loved one's condition and help them manage it.

-- Improve your own comfort level. While it is true that you should never try to take the place of a primary care physician, you may have something the professionals do not...the trust of your loved one with chronic illness. By educating yourself about your loved one's condition, you will feel more comfortable speaking with them about it and reinforcing the advice they have received from their doctors. To get started, check out some of the well-respected medical information online sources, but be sure to speak with your loved one's doctors about any new treatments you discover online before recommending them to your loved one.

"There are effective ways to talk with friends and loved ones about their chronic illnesses," said Dr. Mach. "Speak in a way that makes your loved one see that you are talking with them about their condition and not at them. Using terms or examples that will have meaning to them, listening to their answers to your questions, and paying close attention to their non-verbal reaction are ways to make sure the conversation stays positive and to get valuable information that can help you help them."

Evercare's Leadership in Special Needs Plans for Those with Chronic Illness

An estimated 157 million Americans will be afflicted by chronic diseases by 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, at enormous cost. People with five or more chronic conditions make up just 20 percent of Americans age 65 and older, yet they account for 68 percent of all Medicare spending.

Evercare is expanding its Chronic Illness Special Needs Plans from seven to 34 states for 2008. Special Needs Plans were created by the Federal government to focus solely on Medicare beneficiaries with the most serious and complex health care needs, and include extra benefits, enhanced care management, and coordination of care from a variety of health service providers. The Evercare(R) Chronic Illness Specials Needs Plans provide personalized attention focused on prevention, integration of treatments and ongoing health care coordination, as well as more benefits and services than those covered by Medicare alone.

The Evercare(R) Care Model, at the heart of which are professional Nurse Practitioners and Care Managers, is a unique and innovative approach that can help open the lines of communication between members and their families, physicians, and health care providers. Nurse Practitioners and Care Managers assist all of these parties in working together to keep the member healthy and living as independently as possible. Evercare Nurse Practitioners and Care Managers also serve to support the family members who are often overwhelmed with their responsibilities in coping with chronic disease.

About Evercare

Evercare is one of the nation's largest care health coordination programs for people who have long-term or advanced illness, are older or have disabilities. Founded in 1987, Evercare today serves more than 150,000 people nationwide through Medicare, Medicaid and private-pay health plans, programs and services - from health plans for people in community and skilled nursing settings, to caregiver support and hospice care. Evercare offerings are designed to enhance health and independence, and in the complex world of health care, make getting care easier. Evercare is part of Ovations, a division of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) dedicated to the health care needs of Americans over age 50. For more information about Evercare, call 1-888-834-3721 (TTY 1-888-685-8480) or visit EvercareHealthPlans.com.

Survey methodology

The survey was conducted by telephone by Opinion Research Corporation among a national probability sample of 1,043 adults comprising 530 men and 513 women 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental United States. Interviewing for this survey was completed during the period September 7-10, 2007. The margin of error is plus or minus three percent.

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Peter Ashkenaz
Evercare
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