It might be hard to envision that we will ever need assistance with basic daily living tasks. But the reality is, the longer we live, the greater the likelihood that we will need long-term care.
For women, long-term care is an issue of particular importance. Consider these facts presented by AARP on www.Oprah.com:
1. Women are more likely to need care. Women outlive men an average of five years and frequently live alone later in life. So, women are more likely to require, and end up paying for, help.
A 65-year-old woman today can expect to live about 20 more years and require an average of 3.7 years of extended support.
2. Many women have fewer resources. Many women are hit hard financially by caregiving, divorce, widowhood and job loss. Almost half of women ages 75 or older live alone.
On average, their income is only three-quarters of what older men make, and less than half that of older couples.
3. Long-term care is expensive. In 2014, the average cost of assisted living in South Carolina was more than $38,000 a year; the annual cost of a private room in a nursing home was nearly $72,000; and home health aides averaged $19 per hour, according to the annual Genworth Cost of Care Survey.
4. We will likely pay out-of-pocket for long-term care. Many people believe Medicare and private health insurance pay for long-term care over extended time periods. This is not so.
While Medicare and private health insurance cover short-term needs, most of us will pay for long-term care out of personal savings until we deplete our funding enough to qualify for Medicaid.
Medicaid often provides for fewer care choices, so even if we prefer to, we might not be able to stay in our own homes or communities.
5. Many women don’t plan for the future. A women typically assumes responsibility for the family’s welfare, often putting their needs before her own. Even many of those on the verge of retiring haven’t determined their future needs and how they will pay for them.
6. Even if you never need long-term care, someone you love probably will. Women represent two-thirds of family caregivers, and many make workplace accommodations to take care of loved ones.
This often means cutting back on hours, passing up promotions, or leaving the workforce entirely. One study estimates a median of $240,000 in lost wages over a lifetime. (MetLife Mature Market Institute)
Waiting to address this issue until one actually needs care can significantly impact financial situations and quality of life.
Start planning for the future as you envision it.
Allen Freeman, CFP provides financial planning to retirees and widows. www.allen freemanfinancialplanner.com