As I’ve stated before, Long Term Care is a woman’s issue. A sensitive element to consider regarding long term care coverage is the primary care factor, which negatively impacts women’s financial security.
The Primary Care Factor
Studies on women, retirement and caregiving abound and what they point to is the tendency for women to take on the role of primary caregiver (for a parent or family member) despite the many family and professional demands they already face.
Note the following statistics from the National Alliance of Caregiving report (produced in Collaboration with AARP):
- 66% of caregivers are female
- The average caregiver is female, age 48 and over 37% have children living at home
- Caregivers spend an average of 20 hours per week caring for their loved ones
- 86% of caregivers provide care for a relative, with one-third taking care of a parent (36%)
And, according to a 2008 MetLife study, 28% of women were caregivers for a parent versus 17% of men.
It’s downright startling how negatively this impacts a woman’s ability to fund a comfortable retirement for herself.
The National Alliance report cited above indicates that women who are family caregivers are 2.5 times more likely than non-caregivers to live in poverty and five times more likely to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
According to the MetLife Mature Institute report, Caregiving Costs to Working Caregivers (June 2011):
- On average women lose $142,693 due to leaving the labor force early to be a caregiver
- The estimated impact on lost Social Security benefits is $131,351
- The estimated impact on pensions is approximately $50, 000
There is no doubt that being a caregiver can significantly impact a woman’s lifetime savings. Yet, loved ones will need long term care and as women we are natural caregivers.
So, what’s a woman to do?
Take care of yourself first. Then ask for help.
It’s like how the airplane flight attendant instructs you to first place the oxygen mask on yourself. In order to provide the care that your loved ones need, your self-care – and financial security – needs to be addressed first.
Be proactive about delegating what you can in order to provide care. Would hiring a housekeeper, chef and other assistants allow you to continue working, so you don’t have to interrupt your retirement savings plan?
Is it possible to enlist the help of other family members or professional caregivers? Are there funds available from a long term care policy that will pay for the services of non-professional caregivers? Or how about the cash value from a permanent life insurance policy?
By asking for help and not assuming you have to do it all yourself, you will be taking care of your own future financial needs. Only then care you be fully available and present to provide for your loved ones.