For females in the U. S., there is a high likelihood that at some point in your future you will be alone. Data from the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control shows that the difference in life expectancy at birth between males and females was 4.8 years as of 2011. Although this is down from a high of 7.8 years in 1979, there is still a distinct possibility that as a female, you will be alone for some portion of your senior years. Just walk through any retirement community and it is easy to see the reality of this statistic.
Given this could be your reality, what considerations should be given as you plan for the future?
- You should be involved in the handling of your finances if you have been hands-off in this area. Know what you “own” and what you “owe” as a couple. You need to be informed and educated about all the components of your financial life so you are not left trying to piece together a puzzle if you are suddenly alone.
- Engage with a financial advisor who does not talk down to you. You need to work with someone who is always acting as your fiduciary and who will be patient in helping you learn, no matter what your level of experience.
- Do all you can to ensure both you and your spouse have adequate financial assets and/or long term care insurance to cover the added costs, if either of you were to experience a significant care need.
- You are likely to be the primary caregiver for your spouse if they need assistance in the future. It will be important for you to take good care of yourself during this time and to have a strong support network in place.
- You should consider who will provide care for you in your later years if it is needed. You may be reliant on your adult children, your neighbors, or outside assistance. Or, you may need to make a move to a community where care is provided on-site.
- Do everything in your power to stay healthy and active. There are specific exercise programs for seniors as they age, like Silver Sneakers, that focus on strengthening your core and maintaining good balance.
While you cannot control what the future holds for you or your spouse, you can work together to be prepared by planning ahead and discussing your options today. The future is approaching, so be as ready for it as possible.