Women are living longer than ever before and longer than men, a new study shows.
But the extra years may not be something to cheer about.
Life expectancy for men and women have grown over the past 30 years – to 85.5 years for women (up 2 years) and 83 years for men (up 5 years). But women are now living fewer years able to take care of themselves and maintain regular daily activities, according to a new study in the American Journal of Public Health.
According to the study’s analysis of disability data from 1982 to 2011, a 65-year-old woman can expect to live 30 percent of her remaining years with a disability . On the other hand, a 65-year-old man in 2011 can expect to live just 19 percent of his remaining years disabled.
“Older men have been living longer and experiencing disability at later ages than they used to, while older women have experienced smaller increases in life expectancy and even smaller postponements in disability,” said Vicki Freedman, the study’s lead author and a researcher on aging and health at the University of Michigan, in a released statement.
“As a result, older women no longer can expect to live more active years than older men, despite their longer lives.”
The study found that long-term care strategies need to put a greater emphasis on quality-of-life issues. By 2030, nearly 1 in 5 Americans will be 65 or older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Here are five ways to make sure you’re financially prepared for your older years, whether you’re a man or a woman:
- Save money. Many experts suggest a nest-egg of $1 million to $1.5 million for retirement. Where does that figure come from? To generate $40,000 a year after stopping work, a retiree needs about $1.18 million to support a 30-year retirement, assuming average returns of 6 percent and inflation at 2.5 percent.
- Consider long term care insurance. Long-term care insurance to help pay for care in later years may be a good fit for your family and situation, either as a separate policy or as part of a life insurance policy.
- Make sure both members of a couple understand finances (and not just one spouse). Amanda Steinberg, the founder of DailyWorth.com, told Time magazine that women have often been excluded from discussions about finances. But, the magazine points out, women are now the major breadwinner in one-third of American homes.
- Discuss disability care with family members. It’s important that your family members understand your plans and wishes for care in your later years. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a guide for long-term care that discusses who needs it, how much do you need, and who will pay for it.
- Consider joint survivor benefits. If any of your retirement savings are in annuities, you’ll want to look at whether the proceeds are single-life annuities or joint-and-survivor annuities. If one spouse was the major breadwinner for the family and has a single-life annuity, the surviving spouse may be left in a difficult predicament.
The financial health of aging women is also at the crux of the issue, as women in the U.S. are 80 percent more likely than men to end up in poverty after the age of 65, according to a report released in March by the National Institute on Retirement Security.