Women receiving home care accounted for 32% of new long-term insurance claims in 2011 and continue to be the majority beneficiaries of all long-term care insurance plans, according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI).
In addition to using long-term care more frequently than men, according to AARP’s Public Policy Institute (PPI), women also make up the majority population in assisted living and nursing home facilities, and on average outlive men by five years. Overall, according to AALTCI, 65% of all new long-term care claims in 2011 were made by women.
With a longer life expectancy, according to PPI, women spend more time in advanced age than men, allowing disabilities and illness to become more prevalent. This often means fewer people available to care for them as they lose their mobility and independence, which leads to women’s’ increasing use of long term care, according to Shawn Britt of Nationwide.
“Men are cared for at home by their spouse, they don’t make it to a facility,” said Britt. “Then the wife is alive and her husband isn’t there, now she is the cared for and we have one less person to help provide the care.”
Women are twice as likely as men to be living without a spouse by the age of 75, and have most likely provided unpaid care for parents and spouses by that time, according to Britt. In a phone interview with HHCN, she outlined the cycle experienced by numerous women in the U.S.
“Women generally end up in the caregiving role and make sacrifices in their careers,” said Britt. “A woman by the age of 75 probably took care of a mother or mother in-law, and then her own husband. We have to put a stop to the cycle. We will always help care for spouses, but there is a difference between helping and exhausting.”
Additionally in funding long-term care the Social Security Administration reports that in 2010 the average social security income for women 65 and older was $11,794 while the average for men was $15,231.
In consideration of all the statistics on women and and their use of long term care, Britt believes the industry could reach out to women in promoting long-term care and the benefits of planning ahead for its use.
“Long term care should be marketed to women. While it’s an issue for both, it’s a bigger issue for women. She is generally younger than her husband, and she lives longer.”
Written by Erin Hegarty