Planning for future care needs: experiences of unmarried heterosexual and sexual minority women

Women Health. 2010 Oct;50(7):599-617. doi: 10.1080/03630242.2010.522476.


This study examined the experiences of legally unmarried, middle-aged and older sexual minority (e.g., lesbian, bisexual) and heterosexual women in planning for future care needs and long-term assistance. A total of 215 women (90 sexual minority women and 125 heterosexual women) 41-78 years of age completed a survey about long-term care planning strategies, including: (1) executing a will; (2) naming a health care proxy; (3) purchasing long-term care insurance; and (4) discussing potential living arrangements with at least one family member. Overall, 18.5% of women reported completing zero of the strategies, and 3.4% reported completing all four. Over half (59%) had completed at least two strategies. Women were most likely to have executed a will (68%) and named a health care proxy (61%). Both sexual minority women and heterosexual women were most likely to have talked to a family member of choice, rather than a biological family member about living with them if they were unable to care for themselves. Currently, serving as a health care proxy was an important correlate for having made long-term care plans and was particularly important for sexual minority women. Women who are not in traditional marriage relationships tend to adopt long-term care planning strategies that legally clarify and establish the nature of their important relationships.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Advance Care Planning / statistics & numerical data*
  • Advance Care Planning / trends
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Choice Behavior
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Living Wills / statistics & numerical data
  • Long-Term Care*
  • Middle Aged
  • Minority Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Proxy
  • Sexuality / statistics & numerical data*
  • Single Person*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Women's Health