How many of us have seen Grandma outlive Grandpa? Or Mom outlive Dad? Families try to help and plan for these major events, but it goes well beyond taking on supportive tasks such as yard work, driving to doctor’s appointments, and helping with shopping and cleaning.
The issues women face leading up to and during retirement are unique, go beyond addressing daily tasks and require additional planning compared with previous generations due to changing economic and demographic factors.
Although a significant number of American workers are already failing to adequately prepare for retirement, women, in particular, have some additional challenges to consider as they plan for their future in retirement. Policy makers and the private sector must take these factors into consideration in developing new approaches to strengthen retirement security.
Most women will outlive their spouses and face higher costs in retirement
It is no secret that women have a longer life expectancy than men. This difference is particularly significant among couples who reach the age of 65, with the woman likely to outlive her husband by 11.5 years on average. This means that many of the household expenses once shared between the two must now be borne by the woman alone.
At the same time, women face higher health care costs in retirement. A 63-year old woman is likely to spend roughly 30% more in retirement health care expenses than her husband, not just because she lives longer, but because she is more likely to suffer a chronic illness and less likely to benefit from the unpaid services of a spouse as a caretaker. With the cost of health care expected to continue to rapidly increase, this problem will only become worse.