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  • Long-Term Care: An Important Issue for Women of All Ages

    July is National Retirement Planning Month; a great time to assess your retirement goals and make sure you have the right plan in place to get there. One often overlooked part of the retirement planning process, however, is long-term care. Did you know that 70% of people over the age of 65 need some type of long-term care services? Or that 67 % of adult women have provided long-term care to someone in need? Providing long-term care can have a serious impact on a woman’s long-term finances and is something she herself may one day need. This month’s blog series will focus on the long-term and why it’s one of the most important investments women should make when planning for retirement.

    By Melanie Cheng
    WISER’s National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) Intern

    Being a healthy 23 year old college student, I had never given any thought to long-term care before coming to WISER.  To be honest, I didn’t even really know what long-term care was.  I have since learned that long-term care includes a broad range of health and support services people need as they age or if they are disabled.  These services include personal care and assistance with daily tasks such as eating, dressing, bathing, and performing household chores.  Long-term care services can be provided at home, at a nursing home, in an assisted living facility, or an adult day care center.

    I then thought to myself, why should I think about health services that I might not need for another forty to fifty years?  However, the more I learned about long-term care, the more I realized how important this issue is, especially for women.  I may not need long-term care services for a long time, but the reality is, I will probably need it at some point: 70% of people over the age of 65 need long-term care services.  As a woman, I will most likely need more long-term care than men because women tend to live longer.

    Additionally, because more than 60% of those providing home care are female, chances are, I will also have to perform some long-term care functions for my parents or other family members at some point in my life.  This could have a significant impact on my finances if I have to reduce my work hours or leave the workforce altogether to care for them.  Furthermore, when I finally do need long-term care, I may be unable to afford it: the median income of women age 65 or older in 2009 was just $15,282.  This small sum covers just one-fifth of the average cost of a room in a nursing home for one year.

    In summary, I realize now that regardless of age, educating yourself about long-term care is an important step in planning for your future because you will likely find yourself caring for others, receiving care, or both.  Retirement Planning Month provides a great opportunity to learn more about long-term care and to share this knowledge with others. Stay tuned for next week’s long-term care blog in this month’s series, which will look at continuing the long-term care dialogue amongst family and friends.

    One Response to “Long-Term Care: An Important Issue for Women of All Ages”

    1. Africa says:

      Start now. Its always a good time to start. Put away what you can, but it would be best to do 5-10% of your gross incmoe. If you can’t wing that, do what you can even if its only $500 a year.

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    About Us

    WISER is a nonprofit organization that works to help women, educators and policymakers understand the important issues surrounding women's retirement income. WISER creates a variety of consumer publications including fact sheets, booklets and a quarterly newsletter that explain in easy-to-understand language the complex issues surrounding Social Security, divorce, pay equity, pensions, savings and investments, banking, home-ownership, long-term care and disability insurance.

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