In my work with couples it’s quite common for one spouse/partner to want long-term care insurance and the other to be disinterested. Wanna guess which is which?
It’s usually the older, six-foot plus, 300-pound plus guy that is disinterested and the five-foot, 100-pound spouse that is keenly interested.
Big guy vows he will never need long-term care and if he does his wife or kids will take care of him. Right! That’s old-fashioned thinking today.
Long-term care is assistance provided when we can no longer live independently. The need for care may be the result of a chronic illness like diabetes, a disability caused by a stroke, cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s or simply growing old and becoming frail.
The government projections are that by the time we reach age 65 there is a 70% chance that we will experience a long-term care event before we die.
Tactfully, I hope, I ask big guy if he’s had the conversation with his wife and kids about long-term care. He hasn’t.
Again, tactfully, I hope, I ask big guy if he is certain his wife will be alive when he needs care. He’s not.
Then with tact, I hope, I ask big guy if he thinks she will be healthy and strong enough to be his caregiver? He’s not sure.
Lastly with tact, I hope, I ask big guy if he thinks she will want to be his hands-on caregiver helping with bathing, dressing, personal hygiene, etc.? He’s pretty sure she wouldn’t.
I relate my personal situation.
My husband was retired, older, and bigger by a bunch. Even if I wanted to be his hands-on caregiver, I was not physically capable. And, besides, I work.
Would I manage his care? Absolutely! Bath and dress him? No way! Not possible. He didn’t want that either. We discussed care issues over the years and revisited the conversation frequently.
70% of older Americans will need long-term care
The elderly have always needed assistance. Traditionally in our country, long-term care has been provided at home by family members – wives, daughters and daughters-in law.
But if you think about it, our society has changed significantly over the past two or three generations. Today, there are more women in the workforce, divorce rates are higher than ever before, we’re having fewer children so there are fewer family members to help with care needs and families are scattered geographically across the country.
Depending on family to provide care is no longer the option that it once was and why being able to pay for care is more important than in times past.
The cost of long-term care surprises most people. The U.S. median annual cost for a private room in a skilled nursing facility is $275 per day or $100,375 annually. The average nursing home stay is 2.8 years. You can do the math. In today’s dollars that’s about $281,000 per person. And, that does not include the cost of home care or other care venues prior to nursing home care.
The projections for costs 20 years from now are mindboggling. At $497 per day or about $181,288 annually. The cost of 2.8 years in a nursing home will be over $507,600 per person.
For women this is double trouble. Women not only provide but also receive the majority of long-term care services.
Women are more likely to be single as they age, outliving men by an average of five years. Half of women over age 75 live alone. About two-thirds of home care recipients are women and 70% of nursing home residents are women.
Here’s the crazy thing. Women do not prioritize this issue on their own. But we should. When long-term care becomes necessary not only is it a physical and emotional diagnosis, it is also a financial diagnosis.
Developing a plan for long-term care enables women and their spouses/partners to control decisions. Having a plan for long-term care significantly increases the odds of financial security for women.
A plan starts with three questions:
- Where do you want to receive care?
- Who do you want to provide care?
- How will you pay for care?
For women long-term care is also a financial diagnosis
With decades of claims history insurers are more savvy than ever before. About 71% of claim 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.
- 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.
- Caregiving is a difficult job. Caregivers’ emotional and physical health declines. They worry about the recipient’s health and safety. They lose friends and experience depression, anger and guilt along with increased financial hardship.
- These stresses make the caregiver sick and reduce life expectancy. Caregivers don’t eat well, sleep well, exercise or keep up with their own medical care.
- Women are also at greater risk of needing care themselves. About 66% of home care recipients are women and 70% of nursing home residents are women.
Valentine’s Day has come and gone but if you really love the women in your life you will insist that they have long-term care insurance.
When birthdays, anniversaries and gift-giving holidays roll around this year think about long-term care insurance for the special women in your life.
When we’re older and more fascinating than we are now, we’ll remember that you loved us so much that you insisted that we have long-term care insurance.
If you have questions about products, cost or coverage, give us a call and let’s discuss your situation. Our exclusive focus is long-term care expense planning. It’s all we do.