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Report: Older women face more financial burdens, social isolation than men

A screenshot of a Zoom webinar that shows the average annual cost of care for older adults and the median personal income for older men and women.
Screenshot of Zoom call
The average annual cost of care for older adults is higher than the median personal income for both older men and older women in central Indiana.

Older women face a much greater financial burden than their male counterparts as they age.

That’s one of the takeaways from the Polis Center’s State of Aging report, unveiled Thursday.

The study looked at adults aged 55 and older in central Indiana — the region’s fastest growing demographic.

Equity research analyst Kayla Duncan said social isolation is a threat to older people — and older women are 70 percent more likely to live alone than men.

“Black older women are over 20 percent more likely than White older women to live alone and almost 90 percent more likely to live alone than Hispanic older women,” Duncan said.

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The report shows that the median income for older men is nearly double that of women — about $41,000 to $22,000.

Associate director Karen Comer said that becomes acutely problematic when looking at things like assisted living or home health care.

“The average annual cost of care for older adults exceeds the median personal income of older adults, for both men and women,” Comer said. “This means that there are many older adults who cannot afford long-term care.”

The report is aimed at educating people and helping guide policymakers’ decisions.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.