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Long-Term Care

Long-Term Care Considerations for Women

Over one hundred years ago, men and women had very similar life expectancies—49 years in 1900. Today, as Americans' longevity has increased overall by 20 years, women generally are expected to live seven years longer than men. A newborn girl today has a life expectancy of 79 years, compared to 72 years for a newborn boy.1 Statistics reflect a similar disparity in today's aging population—women represent 58% of the population age 60 and older. The figures increase dramatically for women age 85 and older, who comprise 70% of this senior segment of the population.2 Furthermore, according to the U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA), 70% of female baby boomers will be widows.3

Traditionally, women have been the caretakers of both the older and younger generations of their families. As more and more women enter the workforce, providing care for family members becomes increasingly difficult, as doing so may require a leave of absence from work. The cost of living continues to rise, and income disruptions greatly affect a woman's ability to save money, plan for retirement, and maintain financial security. Older married women often find themselves in the position of providing care for their elderly husbands and may deplete their resources in the process.

But, who will help the women when they require assistance? Even though younger family members may be more than willing to help out, the costs of health care often exceed the amount of disposable income available to the average family. It is estimated that women are twice as likely to live in a nursing home and live in poverty, as are their male counterparts. The statistics seem to indicate the time has come for women and their family members to look toward the future, and prepare for long-term care.

Copyright © 2003 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

1 Older Americans 2000: Key Indicators of Well-Being, by the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging Related Statistics, 2000, p. 22.
2 Older Americans 2000: Key Indicators of Well-Being, by the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging Related Statistics, 2000, p. 12.
3 "Meeting the Needs of Older Women: A Diverse and Growing Population," U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA), 2003.



 

 
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