Women and Long-Term Care

Over one hundred years ago, men and women had very similar life expectancies—49 years in 1900. Today, as the longevity of Americans has increased overall by 20 years, women generally are expected to live five years longer than men. A newborn girl today has a life expectancy of approximately 80.4 years, compared to almost 75 years for a newborn boy, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. A similar disparity in today’s aging population exists--Women represent 57% of the population age 65 and older, and 67% of the population age 85 and older (U.S. Census Bureau).

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. These income disruptions greatly affect a woman’s ability to save money, plan for retirement, and maintain financial security. In addition, older married women often find themselves in the position of providing care for their elderly husbands, which 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. The Administration on Aging reports that women are twice as likely to live in a nursing home and live in poverty, as are their male counterparts. Perhaps women and their family members need to look toward the future, and start  the long-term care planning process.


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