Women have longer lives, so plan ahead and enjoy it

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Bob Land


Business Columnist

Monday, March 5, 2018

Why do ladies live longer than men? This is a truth that spans the industrialized world.

Women live on average 5- 10 years longer than men: In the US, 6½ years longer, 5.3 years in the UK, 12 years in Russia and six months more in India. Eighty-five percent of people over age 100 are women, according to Tom Perls founder of the New England Centenarian study at Boston University and creator of the website www. livingto100.com

Genetics certainly is an uncontrollable factor that impacts us all. But so does our gender. Articles galore come to this same conclusion from well know sources: Time, Psychology Today, Scientific American, etc. A girl born in 2012 is expected to live to 81.2 years versus age 76.4 for a boy.

Health.com suggested five reasons or female trends that are noteworthy:

■ Women have stronger social networks: Friends make good, positive medicine. People with strong social networks have a 50 percent lower chance of dying that those of few social ties, according to a 2010 study at  Brigham Young University. Many men suffer from the “John Wayne” Syndrome —deny sickness, tough it out, don’t seek medical attention until symptoms are acute and severe. Men tend to hold feelings in, close to their chest; women more often discuss feelings with friends.

■ Women are impacted by heart disease later in life: Heart disease is the leading killer of women and men. But men develop it earlier and die from it as soon as their 30s and 40s. Women typically develop it 10 years later than men. Women’s bodies produce large amounts of estrogen up through menopause, and this aids in protecting their “heart health.”

■ There are fewer women daredevils than men: The third leading cause of death in men is unintentional injuries. For women it is 6th, according to the CDC. Some medical researchers believe the frontal lobes of the brain that deal with risk and responsibility calculations develop quicker in women. Guys tend to take more risks. Parents generally comment their young son’s bounce off the walls and take more risks than their daughters. But there are exceptions to every rule; as exemplified by Amelia Earhart, UFC woman brawler Rhonda Rousey, Joan of Arc, Marie Curie and Rosa Parks.

■ Women have less prenatal problems: Two and a half as many boys are conceived as girls, according to Dr. Marianne Legato of Columbia University’s college of physicians. But boys are so much more likely to succumb to prenatal infection or other issues in the womb that by the time they’re born, the ratio is close to one to one. “They’re also slower to develop physically than girls prenatally, which means they’re more likely to die if they are preemies due to underdeveloped lung or brain development,” Dr. Legato explains.

■ Women take better care of their health: Men are 24 percent less likely than women to have visited a doctor within the past year and are 22% more likely to skip out on cholesterol testing, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. In fact more than a quarter (28%) of men doesn’t have a regular physician and about one in five didn’t have health insurance in 2012, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Men tend to suffer from the “John Wayne” Syndrome — deny sickness, tough it out, don’t seek medical attention, until symptoms are acute and severe.

So why does our financial planning firm educate their male and female clients and staff with such data? Because planning accuracy demands it.

Ladies, you need to plan financially in the following areas differently than you might think. Here are some important financial considerations for you.

■ If married, plan to outlive your husband by 5-plus years. What resources will you responsibly have in place to care for yourself? Encourage him to have savings and life insurance that will take care of you for a lifetime.

Become responsibly familiar with financial matters, insurance and investments. If not now, you likely will end up with the checkbook in a marriage at the end.

■ Your retirement savings need to last longer than the average male. A safe goal is to have adequate savings for a lifespan of age 95. This takes planning and sacrifices.

■ If married, potentially your husband will spend up more than his 50 percent of your family nest-egg in his last few years of health care. Save extra for you, knowing you likely will outlive him. Without planning he potentially spends up most all of the “nest-egg” and you will have little to live on after he is gone.

■ Ladies, you likely will be a part-time or full-time caregiver to your parents, parent in laws, and your spouse. This could impact your savings and social security benefits.

■ Your extended care/long-term care needs will likely be longer than the three years listed in “average need” statistics. This likely is the largest financial expense you will face in your lifetime. Extended care needs are $85,000 per year in North Carolina in 2017, and increasing at 3 to 4 percent a year. Plan for it. Educate yourself on insurance and Investment options for home health and if needed facility care. Consider partnering with advisors/specialists in extended care and retirement planning. Most retirement planners are not also well versed in extended care needs.

Be planned, prepared and enjoy greater peace of mind by thinking ahead and being ready for the likely variables you will face. Enjoy your longer life by proactively planning for it.

Bob Land is president of Landmark Financial Services LLC. in Rocky Mount.