Women spend much of their lives caring for others. As mothers and wives, they never seem to stop giving to their families and husbands.
So who will take care of mom if she needs long-term care? Or will she plan ahead for her long-term care?
It’s important that she does. Women typically outlive men by an average of about five years. According to aarp.org, more than two-thirds of Americans 85 or older are women. And about 79 percent of 65-year-old women will need long-term care during their lifetime, according to a study by the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute.
Women often become long-term caregivers for their husbands or other family members. And as statistics show, they are also more likely to become widowed before needing long-term care themselves. Her husband’s needs may have further drained assets, leaving the widow with less financial wherewithal to apply to her own care.
“Women too often don’t adequately plan ahead for LTC needs,” said Lisa Odoski, a financial professional focusing on women’s well-being and Vice President of the Fried Group, the parent company of TFG Wealth Management.
“At the same time, research shows among unpaid care-givers in the U.S., two-thirds are women. They sacrifice a lot – sometimes their own careers or reducing their regular work hours.
“Women today have a greater risk of needing LTC services and of becoming unpaid caregivers. It’s an important time for them to develop an LTC strategy that helps preserve their total financial future.”
Odoski gives three tips to help women prepare for their long-term care:
• Educate yourself. Family financial planning used to be almost exclusively the men’s turf. Those days are long gone, and with many houses running on two incomes and women outliving men, women need to make planning for their distant future more of a priority. But an AARP survey showed 60 percent of women hadn’t considered how they would pay for long-term care. “They should start by consulting an investment expert and financial planner,” Odoski said. “They need to get up to speed on senior care costs, insurance and savings plans.”
• Know your retirement benefits and your spouse’s. Women should take advantage of their employer’s retirement plan and not delay in saving for their future, including the last years they may spend alone. It’s especially important, in the event of divorce or their spouse’s death, to know their spousal rights in regard to their spouse’s pension, Social Security or veteran’s benefits. “They don’t want to be in a position where most of their spouse’s benefits are going toward their own care,” Odoski said.
• Think long-term with your budget. Women should have specific goals and a plan to save towardthem. The statistics say the goals should include a portion devoted to long-term care insurance, which covers a wide spectrum of products and services. “They should lay out all monthly and annual spending needs and crunch the numbers to determine what they’ll need in later years in order to maintain their familiar lifestyle,” Odoski said. “They need to look at all LTC options. Medicare and private insurance usually aren’t enough to cover long-term care anymore.”
“After decades of taking care of others,” Odoski said, “women more than ever need to know how to take care of themselves.”