Three Reasons Long-term Care Is Important to Women

1. Women have a longer life expectancy.

Women typically live longer than men, with half of women living until at least age 90. As a result, women may spend twice as many years needing care and, consequently, twice as much money on care.1 Building financial strategies now can provide you with options for long-term care, including where you receive it and by whom.

2. Women frequently don’t have a spousal caregiver.

When a husband needs long-term care, his wife often acts as primary caregiver. But many women are widowed by the time they need care and don’t have a spousal caregiver in the home. In that situation, choices become more limited unless you’ve prepared in advance. 

There are a number of strategies that can offer you greater control over your long-term care needs when they arise, thereby reducing the need to rely on your children for care or financial support. It’s empowering to make choices regarding the type and location of care you receive.

3. Medicare & Medicaid may not be options.

You may expect you’ll be able to turn to Medicare or Medicaid to help pay for long-term care. In reality, this may not be an option, as these programs have: 

  • Limited flexibility – In many states, coverage is not available for in-home care, which is where you may expect and desire to receive necessary care. 
  • Benefit ceilings – Medicare covers up to 100 days of skilled nursing care following hospitalization and provides limited home health care. In particular, it will not provide 24-hour-a-day home health care or home health care to people who don't also require skilled nursing care."2 
  • Strict qualification guidelines – Medicaid support for long-term care is subject to strict income and asset tests that vary by state, leaving Medicaid as an option primarily for those who have minimal income and/or have already spent down their assets.3

Important Information:

1 “The Impact of Retirement Risk on Women,” Society of Actuaries/WISER, 2009 

2 “What Is the Distribution of Lifetime Health Care Costs from Age 65?” Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, March 2010 

3 Age Wave/Harris Interactive Survey, “America Talks: Protecting Our Families’ Financial Futures,” as quoted in “Long-term Care: A Silent Concern,”, April 13, 2010

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