I’m just going to be frank: when it comes to aging, much of the burden falls on women.
I’m not just talking about the role as a caregiver – although that is a major worry as those around us age. I’m also talking about the fact that women, on average, live longer than men and more women are choosing to stay single as they age. And that means it’s never too early to start planning.
A Rise in Single Woman Households
For years, the number of single households for both men and women has been steadily rising. “Findings from the Current Population Survey show that in the U.S., there are now 117.9 million adults, 18 and older, who are divorced or widowed or have been single all their lives. That’s up from 115.8 million a year ago.” (Psychology Today)
There are various reasons for these changes, but the bottom line is the same: for many women it is up to them to create their plan for aging.
The problem is, “Women often feel like they need to wait until they earn a higher salary or have accumulated enough money to get started,” Sylvia Kwan says. “But time and compounding are powerful allies towards building wealth and achieving a comfortable retirement.”
Even if You’re Married…Consider This.
By nature, women tend to outlive men. The numbers here tell a great story. For a 65-year-old woman in average health, she has a nearly 80% chance of living to age 80. She has a nearly 50/50 chance of living to age 90 and a 1 in 10 chance of living to 100! And keep in mind these are women in average health. The numbers vary as you would expect; for women in poor health, their chances of longevity are lower and women in excellent health at age 65 have a greater chance of living longer well into their 90s and even to 100.
Unfortunately, the longevity bonus women experience creates a greater risk for needing care; HealthandAging.org finds that a 65-year-old woman has a 58% chance of needing LTC services, which could be why 72% of the long-term care population in nursing homes are women.
Thoughts vs. Facts
One of the greatest trends that I’ve seen during my time in this industry is a general confusion about long-term care. That is why I’m so passionate about education and awareness. Those two things can help us all plan and better prepare. The biggest planning opportunities we need to pay attention to can be categorized by these common myths.
“It won’t happen to me.”
The reality is that total life expectancy has increased by 9 years and is projected to increase another 7 years. This makes LTC more of a “when” as opposed to an “if”.1
“Medicare and Medicaid have me covered.”
Many people are surprised to hear Medicare only covers a portion of skilled nursing costs up to 100 days. And Medicaid is only available to those with limited assets and income.1
“That’s what my savings are for.”
It’s a sobering reality that currently, the national average cost for a private room in a licensed nursing facility is over $105,000 per year.2
“My family will be able to take care of me.”
Our research shows nearly 2/3 of consumers have no plan for long-term care. This could lead to family members needing to step up and play the role of caregiver. Studies have shown women are more often than men the ones doing this. So it’s important women address long-term care planning with their family, so it’s not assumed they take on this role.3
Finding the Help You Need
After reading this blog, you might be tired of hearing this phrase, but I’ll say it again: The time to plan is now.
As women, we often get distracted by the “now” and forget to plan for the “next.” We’re busy taking care of a home, family, aging parents, and creating a life that might include a career and outside interests.
It’s time to put your oxygen mask on for a moment and think about what comes next. If you’re a single woman, you’ll want to make sure that you have a plan in place. If you’re a mom and/or wife, making a plan now can help ensure that you don’t put the burden of caregiving (which we’ll talk about in the next blog) on your family.
Have questions? Let’s talk about them. CLICK HERE to schedule an appointment.
Debbie Charpentier has been serving clients since 1989 by using a holistic, comprehensive approach that helps clients create the life they value and the legacy they envision. Charpentier Wealth Strategies is a Bakersfield, CA Financial Planning practice that offers fee-based financial planning services. To contact Debbie, email Debbie.Charpentier@LFG.com. http://charpentierwealth.com/