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Who Is More Prepared Financially to Handle Long-Term Care: Women or Men?

Who Is More Prepared Financially to Handle Long-Term Care: Women or Men?

Many Americans have inaccurate assumptions of how they will pay for long-term care needs. They believe that Medicare, supplemental policies or standard health insurance will cover the expenses. Consequently, they are not adequately (financially) prepared to provide for their future care.

This was evidenced in a survey conducted by market researchers Mathew Greenwald & Associates on behalf of The MetLife Mature Market Institute and AARP Health Care Options. They questioned a demographically balanced sample of 1,000 adults aged 50+ on the source from which they would pay the bulk of their long-term care costs, and more than three in ten named sources that are not feasible. Twenty-one percent of both male and female respondents cited Medicare as their chief means of paying for long-term care. Seven-percent of the men and nine-percent of the women answered health insurance, and three-percent of the men and one-percent of the women answered disability insurance. However, 19% of the male respondents and 13% of the females chose personal investments and assets, and 14% of the men and 16% of the women picked long-term care insurance.

One in five men and women responded that they have a long-term care insurance policy. However, a large proportion of these respondents do not have standalone policies. In actuality, 4% of men and 5% of women said that their policy is part of another health insurance or disability insurance policy, or that their long-term care insurance is a federal program such as Medicaid or Medicare. Only 16% of men and 14% of women said they had a long-term care policy that is separate from other insurance or federal programs.

If forced to rely on only their own savings, investments, and assets, 40% of women believe they don’t have enough money to pay for a single year of nursing home care, which is estimated at around $66,000. Only 31% of men felt that they couldn’t pay for a year’s nursing home care using their personal assets. Sixteen-percent of women and 18% of men reported that they could pay for one or two years of care, but men are almost twice as likely to believe they have enough to pay for at least three years of nursing home care. In fact, 26% of women said that they do not know how many years they could pay, while only 19% of men were unsure about the number of years of care they could pay. The difference between men and women’s ability to pay for nursing home care is not an issue among Boomers, but it emerges as a concern as the age of the respondents increased.

Among those respondents who do not already have long-term care insurance, 42% of men versus 32% of women said that they have considered purchasing coverage at some time. This difference in attitude toward purchasing long-term care insurance is apparent only between married/partnered men and women, and the difference increased as the age of the respondents increased.

Do the Sexes Differ When It Comes to Their Expectations About Long-Term Care?

Do the Sexes Differ When It Comes to Their Expectations About Long-Term Care?

According to The American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging,by the year 2020, 12 million older Americans will need long-term care.  The same study concluded that at age 65, people have at least a 40% risk of requiring care in a nursing home at some point during their lifetime. Despite these staggering statistics, most Americans do not have realistic expectations about long-term care.

The results of a survey that polled a demographically balanced sample of 1,000 adults age 50 and over gave a good indication of what most Americans think about long-term care. The market research firm Matthew Greenwald & Associates conducted the poll at the request of The MetLife Mature Market Institute and AARP Health Care Options. They discovered that when older men and women are asked about becoming disabled and needing daily assistance bathing, dressing, and eating, men’s expectations for how they would be cared for differ from women’s. Men were more likely than women to answer that their spouse or partner would take care of them, and much less likely to respond that their children or stepchildren would become their primary caregiver. They were also less likely to feel that moving in with children would be necessary. Eighty-eight percent of the men chose their partners as the person most likely to be their primary caregiver, as compared with 72% of women.

The study also concluded that 41% of men with children believe their children would become their primary caregiver. However, 55% of women believe their children will be their caregivers. In the same vein, only 26% of men view residing with their children or their spouse’s children as a possibility as compared to 39% of women. These differences in perceptions of children’s roles in long-term care occur only between men and women who are married or living with a partner.

The difference between older men and women in the likelihood of moving in with their adult children is especially significant among Baby Boomers, as almost half of the 50- to 58-year old women believe it is probable they would move in with their children or their spouse’s children. However, when questioned about assisted living facilities and nursing homes, men and women were like-minded. Sixty-four percent of men and 65% of women believe that living in an assisted living facility is possible, while 55% of men and 50% of women felt the same about living in a nursing home.

Among older Americans who are married or living with a partner, 9 out of 10 men and women believe it is likely that they will become their spouse’s primary caregiver if they become disabled. The highest percentage of women who felt this way was found among the 50-to-58 year-olds, with 84% responding affirmatively.

The study found that 43% of men and 38% of women who have children, or whose spouse/partner does, believe it is “very” or “somewhat” likely the children would become their spouse’s primary caregiver.