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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.