No worries. This is not a solicitation for a new online dating site. But it is an alert for single women.
No matter how the single occurred – never married, divorced, widowed – we are all at great risk for needing assistance for long-term care.
We outlive men. But we provide care for them. About 75% of unpaid family caregivers are women – mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, nieces.
- Unpaid family caregivers can spend 20 to 40 hours a week caring for a family member over an average of four to five years. If employed these family caregivers essentially have two jobs.
- Studies indicate that 83% of caregivers contribute financially, 63% have less income, 61% reduce their savings, 57% dip into their own retirement funds, 48% lose a job or miss career opportunities, 45% cut back on their own family expenses, 44% work fewer hours at their job and 12% quit their job.
- Earnings, savings, 401(k) and/or IRA contributions, Social Security and other benefits are all negatively impacted resulting in less retirement income.
The longer we live the greater the chance that we will need long-term care. About 66% of home care recipients are women and 70% of nursing home residents are women.
- About 71% of claims dollars have been paid to women for long-term care.
- As a result, the cost of long-term care insurance for women has increased. If single the increase is substantial. Women will still buy long-term care insurance but be able to afford less coverage.
We’re wired to take care of everyone else but neglect ourselves. A plan for long-term care should be a priority. Yes, long-term care may cost more today with gender-based premiums but it can still be affordable. And some coverage is better than none.
- Make a plan! If you think you may be aging solo don’t delay making decisions. While still healthy and lucid figure out your plan. Be sure that critical documents are in place including financial and health care powers of attorney, living will, trust, etc.
- Build a circle of friends and designate a trusted advisor to be your personal advocate if you cannot handle health care or financial decisions.
- Who will you entrust to carry out your preferences if you are not able to speak or decide for yourself? Make sure that person(s) is willing to perform this role for you.
- Be sure that all of your preferences are known along with the location of your documents.
- Consider your living arrangements. If remaining in your home, do you know your neighbors?
- Does your community have a senior citizen service that checks on elderly residents daily?
- Will a retirement community provide the kind of support and social environment important in later years?
- Where do you want to live if you need long-term care? At home? In a continuing care retirement community? Assisted living community?
The government projects that by age 65 and older 70 percent of us are going to need some level of long-term care. For most Americans there are just three funding options: self-fund, private insurance or qualify for government assistance designed for the indigent.
I am widowed. I do have a plan for long-term care including a robust insurance policy. I also have a trust. I’m the trustee now but if no longer capable of making decisions, my sister is my contingent trustee. I just remind her frequently that she cannot die before I do! That is not in my plan.
I hope becoming single is not in your future. But if it is, making a plan will help manage the challenges of aging and provide peace of mind.