By 2020, some 12 million older Americans will require long term care services. Most will be women.
November is designated as national Long Term Care Awareness Month to build awareness for the type of care needed by individuals who have a chronic illness or disability. Many women assume that government programs like Medicare or Medicaid will completely cover the cost of all long-term care needs.
Women, especially, bear the burden of long term care costs for three reasons: women live longer than men; they require care longer; and because women more often assume the responsibility for their family's welfare, they often become the primary caregivers for elderly family members or their partner.
Long-term care is a critically important issue for women. The vast majority of women who are age 50 or older considerably underestimate the risk and have no plan in place.
The AALTCI’s publication “A Woman's Guide to Long-Term Care Insurance Planning,” explains that women are far more likely to reach an age when they will be the recipients of long term care. Some 980,000 women over the age of 65 are currently nursing home residents compared to only 337,000 men. Nearly three-fourths (73.6 percent) of assisted living residents are women. Twice as many women age 65-plus are being cared for in a home setting than men (3.27 million versus 1.68 million).
When it comes to long term care insurance, women currently account for nearly two-thirds of the $6 billion in annual benefit dollars paid. Experts advise women begin investigating long term care insurance in their early to mid-fifties. At this age you are far more likely to qualify for good health discounts that you don't lose even if your health changes in future years.