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Why Women Need to Plan for Long-Term Care

Laurence Hale, AAMS®, CRPS®
Principal/Managing Partner, Investment Advisor & Chief Investment Officer

As mothers, sisters and daughters, women are often counted on to be caregivers for family members in need. Whether it’s something as small as a cold or as debilitating as a terminal illness, women are typically the ones to care for and help out when a loved one is sick. But what happens when the caregiver is in need of her own care?  

Too many women are stuck facing this dilemma head on and without a plan or supports. Here are just a few of the reasons why, and how women can empower themselves to think about and plan for their own care in the future, even while caring for others today.

Women Are Outliving Men

According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2017 the average life expectancy of men was 76.1-years-old. Women on average, however, outlived their male counterparts by five years, with a life expectancy of 81.1 years.1 While an extra five years may not sound like much, it opens women up to a much higher likelihood of developing chronic illnesses and disabilities that can threaten their autonomy.

Not only that, but if a woman has a spouse and that spouse passes away before her, she will no longer have a partner to act as a caregiver during these last few years. What’s more, the couple’s collective savings may have been drained by the healthcare and other costs required for his/her end-of-life care.  Then when it comes time for a woman’s own need for long-term care, the funds are no longer there.

Higher Risk of Health Problems

As mentioned before, a longer life expectancy leaves women much more vulnerable to developing chronic health problems later in life. Because of this, the majority of the population in need of long-term care services are women. In fact, 66.8 percent of nursing home residents, 59.1 percent of hospice care users and 70.2 percent of residential care community members are women.2 Unfortunately, while you may not think long-term care is a part of your future, the statistics speak for themselves. More likely than not, women are going to be in need of some sort of long-term care later in life.

Affordability Is an Issue

Widows, divorcees and women who have never been married are often at a disadvantage when it comes to being able to afford the long-term care needed later in life. Twenty percent of widowed women 65 and older were impoverished in 2012, while that number jumped to 29 percent in women who have never been married.3 Factor in a lack of long-term care strategizing and the development of a sudden chronic illness, and those women who were trying to stay afloat in times of good health are likely to only sink further into debt.

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Lack of Retirement Planning

 There are several reasons why women historically haven’t planned for retirement at the same rate as men. While women make up 46.8 percent of the workforce, they’re typically spending less time working as they leave jobs to raise a family or care for loved ones.4 Additionally, women are typically earning only around 80 percent of what their male counterparts do, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.5

With less overall income, women generally aren’t putting the same amount of attention into retirement planning as men are. And without proper planning, they aren’t preparing themselves or their finances for the possible need for long-term care and other unexpected expenses.

 Women Provide Care to Others

Whether it’s for aging parents or loved ones with disabilities, one in five Americans serves as a caregiver. Of that group, 58 percent are women.6 And while many are happy to help, caregivers don’t always take into consideration the physical, mental or financial toll it can take. Not only can caregiving remove a woman from the workforce, but it can drain her finances as she spends her savings on the expenses of a loved one. In doing so, she may be opening herself up to a future lack of funds when it comes to her own long-term care expenses.

With women being at a higher risk for needing long-term care later in life, it’s important to spend time now preparing for unexpected expenses. Take the time to incorporate a long-term care strategy into your retirement plan to help keep yourself afloat in the face of untimely events.

How to Begin Planning for Your Own Long-Term Care

 Given all the reasons discussed above, it’s obvious how important it is that women be empowered to think about their own future needs as well as the needs of loved ones in the present. Preparing ahead now while there are still plenty of options, resources and time will make all the difference in the future. 

To start with, think about what your wishes might be if and when the time comes. Would you prefer professional care in your own home? If you’d rather live in an assisted living residence is there one that you’d prefer? The answers to these questions will help you begin to understand the expenses involved. The next step is to consider your assets and whether they’ll be enough to cover those expenses. You may want to consider purchasing long-term care insurance to help bridge the gap or discuss other options with your financial advisor.

If you’d like help in planning for your financial future, including long-term care planning, get in touch with us at Weiss, Hale & Zahansky Strategic Wealth Advisors and request a complimentary consultation. We’ll show you how we can help you create a strategic financial plan for you and your future using our Plan Well, Invest Well, Live Well™ process. Contact us at (860) 928-2341 or info@whzwealth.com.


Presented by Principal/Managing Partner Laurence Hale AAMS, CRPS®. Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. These materials are general in nature and do not address your specific situation. For your specific investment needs, please discuss your individual circumstances with your representative. Weiss, Hale & Zahansky Strategic Wealth Advisors does not provide tax or legal advice, and nothing in the accompanying pages should be construed as specific tax or legal advice. 697 Pomfret Street, Pomfret Center, CT 06259, 860-928-2341. www.whzwealth.com.

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db328.htm
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_03/sr03_038.pdf
  3. https://www.epi.org/publication/women-over-65-are-more-likely-to-in-poverty-than-men/
  4. https://www.dol.gov/wb/stats/NEWSTATS/latest/demographics.htm#three
  5. https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2018/demo/p60-263.html
  6. https://www.apa.org/pi/about/publications/caregivers/faq/cdc-factsheet.pdf

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