What Women Need to Know About Long-Term Care

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The Caregiver Burden Falls on Women

According to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2000) more than 50 million people provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year.

Approximately 60 % of family caregivers are women, many of whom are middle-aged, married, employed, and caring for an elderly parent who does not live with her. To avoid jeopardizing their financial future, women should educate themselves about caregiver economics.

Caregiver Economics

Did you know?

On average, women can expect to devote more than 30 hours a week providing “free” care to a loved one. Forced to either withdraw from the workforce or reduce hours, the loss of income can be substantial. In 2000, for example, the typical working family full time caregiver lost $109 per day in wages and health benefits.

An ill spouse, who needs costly medical care, can quickly deplete family assets, leaving no money for his surviving spouse to afford care for herself.

According to the Wiser Report, there are no public or private retirement programs that “grant credit” for care giving when calculating retirement benefits.

Medicare will not pay for extended long-term care services and provides only limited assistance when a person is recovering from an illness. Typically Medicare kicks in after a minimum of a three day stay in a hospital.

Medicaid provides for care, but only after most of a person’s assets are spent down, the care is up to the government’s discretion and is limited to a nursing home.

Tips Selecting Long-Term Insurance

  • Choose a company with an excellent rating.
  • Choose an agent who is knowledgeable and best represents your situation.
  • Choose a plan which provides the options of care at home, in an assisted living facility, an adult day care center, or a nursing facility.
  • Make sure to choose inflation protection which increases your daily benefit amount each year by 5% compound or 5% simple, depending on your age at the time of purchase.
  • Involve your children in the process, for they will ultimately be emotionally and financially affected by it.

With more families today depending on two-incomes, many women cannot afford to reduce their earnings to stay home to care for a chronically ill spouse or parent. It is prudent to at least explore the cost/benefits of long-term care insurance while they are young enough to be insurable since women will not only be the caregivers but also the recipients of care in their lifetime.

Sources: Judith Blaustein, CLTC, Stucki, B.R. and Mulvey, J., “Can Aging Baby Boomers Avoid the Nursing Home? Long-term Care Insurance for Aging in Place.” American Council of Life Insurers, March 2000; National Caregivers Association

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