Women today have more options than ever before and assume many important roles than ever before – from caring for our loved ones (both younger and older) to pursuing vibrant careers and lives. But by not planning for our futures today, many of us are unknowingly leaving decisions about our futures to others, including decisions about our long-term care needs.
According to a recent AARP survey of women ages 45 to 64:
• Six in 10 (59 percent) of us haven’t determined how we’ll pay for our long-term care needs.
• Forty percent of us don’t know that long-term care is more than nursing home care. Long-term care is a combination of elements that enable us to live as well as possible how and where we want, including daily help needed if we develop chronic conditions that last a long time. These services come from many sources.
• Only 23 percent of us know we’ll likely pay for future care needs with personal savings. Medicare and private health insurance don’t cover long-term care services.
“Studies consistently show women are the biggest users of long-term care, and we’re more likely than men to need these services,” says Alyson Burns, Director of AARP’s Long-term Care Awareness Campaign. “Yet we are so busy with our own hectic lives and caring for others that we’ll only address our own needs after everyone else’s. Taking a little time and a few easy steps can provide for peace of mind now and in the future.”
To fully empower women with the tools and information to take charge of their futures, AARP has launched the Decide.Create.Share.sm campaign to raise long-term care awareness and planning among women nationwide. As part of this effort, AARP is offering free online resources through its Web site (www.aarp.org/decide), which women can use to discuss and plan for their future needs.
Fortunately, there are some practical things we can do today that cost nothing and let us stay in charge later, including:
• Know your family medical history – Did Aunt Mary have diabetes? Learning your family medical history and adopting healthy habits can protect against chronic conditions you might be at risk for.
• Could home sweet home be sweeter? – Do you have lots of stairs to navigate? Or a well-designed home with a bedroom and full bathroom on the main level? Take stock of your home. Ask yourself if it will suit your changing needs.
• Comfy with your community? – What amenities does your community offer? Do you have access to all the transportation alternatives, activities and services that are important to you? Make sure it offers what you need and want.
• Have the heart-to-heart with your loved ones – Talk with your family about your future financial and medical wishes to ensure they are aware of what you’d like.
• Get up close and personal with your finances – What options do you have now? Or what care options would you want for the future? Think about your financial situation and learn the costs of long-term care.
• Explore your options – Visit www.aarp.org/decide to get the resources to explore other easy steps and start thinking about your future.
“Clearly, this isn’t our parents’ long-term care,” says Elinor Ginzler, AARP’s Senior Vice President for Livable Communities. “Planning for your future these days involves thinking about your lifestyle needs and goals across many areas of your life – from your home and community to personal health, finances, and medical wishes.”
For more information on the Decide.Create.Share.sm campaign, visit www.aarp.org/decide.