Women Are The Caregiver Corps
Part of the outsized heft of women as consumers, particularly in healthcare, is that they are far more likely to be caregivers than men. Statistically speaking, women are unhappiest in their early to mid-forties. Why? This is the time in their lives when their burdens are greatest: they are typically at the highest pressure-point in their careers, in the midst of raising children, and often providing care to an aging parent.
It is that last item that most tends to be ignored. But caregiving is primarily a woman’s game: 66% of caregivers are female. Even when a male spouse or sibling pitches in to help, he often only does a fraction of the work of his female counterpart. The value of unpaid, informal care by women ranges from $148 billion to $188 billion annually.
As caregivers for elderly parents, women are most likely to get a glimpse at the part of retirement not captured in financial advisory brochures. The experience of caregiving seems to provide a certain sanguinity when thinking about older age and retirement. In an MIT AgeLab study, when women and men were asked to think about their hopes and fears of life after 65, men were more focused on the rewards they hoped to receive in retirement—vacations, leisure, relaxation, etc.—while women focused on the process of aging successfully, thinking more about mortgages, investments, savings, finance, etc.