* The average age of widowhood in the United States is 55 years.
* A third of women who become widowed are younger than age 60, and half of all women who will become widowed become so by age 65.
* From the 2000 U.S. Census: Nearly half of the women in the United States – ages 65 years and older – are widowed.
* Nearly 700,000 women lose their husbands each year and will be widows for an average of 14 years.”-U.S. Bureau of the Census (1999).
* According to the 2010 U.S. Census there are 11 million widows in the U.S.
* One study reported that 75% of widows indicate a loss of contact with friends and some relatives.
* In a 2010 U.N. study, at least 245 million women around the world have been widowed and more than 115 million of them live in devastating poverty.
* The death of a spouse is considered the #1 stressor on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale (see scale below). If a person scores 300 or more, the person is likely to encounter a physical illness. Since the death of a spouse may result in numerous changes, a new widow could easily reach 300 points. One website reports that 60% of new widows experience a serious illness within the first year of widowhood.
* Mathew Greenwald & Associates’ Survey of Recent Widows raises red flags that all couples over 50 should know and deal with before it’s too late for them.
That’s particularly true if the husband handles most of the household’s investments and financial planning.
What the Survey Discovered
The survey, conducted for the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) and funded by the American Council of Life Insurers, interviewed 246 women age 70 and younger who became widowed within the past five years and had financial assets of $50,000 to $1 million. Among its findings:
- 61% of the widows whose husbands were responsible for financial planning had difficulty filing income taxes.
- Half of the widows lost at least 50% of their income when their husbands died.
- 45% of widows with $50,000 to $99,999 in savings and investments did not have an emergency fund prior to their husband’s death. Roughly a third (29%) of all widows surveyed lacked emergency funds.
- 37% had difficulty determining what they were entitled to receive from Social Security and initiating Social Security benefits after their husbands died.
- 26% had difficulty locating bank accounts and investments and obtaining access after their husbands died.
- And 26% of the widows whose husbands were responsible for financial planning had to move to less expensive housing as a result of their spouse’s death.
Information from Forbes Magazine – November 2013
From the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale
|Life event||Life change units|
|Death of a spouse||100|
|Death of a close family member||63|
|Personal injury or illness||53|
|Dismissal from work||47|
|Change in health of family member||44|
|Gain a new family member||39|
|Change in financial state||38|
|Death of a close friend||37|
|Change to different line of work||36|
|Change in frequency of arguments||35|
|Foreclosure of mortgage or loan||30|
|Change in responsibilities at work||29|
|Child leaving home||29|
|Trouble with in-laws||29|
|Outstanding personal achievement||28|
|Spouse starts or stops work||26|
|Beginning or end school||26|
|Change in living conditions||25|
|Revision of personal habits||24|
|Trouble with boss||23|
|Change in working hours or conditions||20|
|Change in residence||20|
|Change in schools||20|
|Change in recreation||19|
|Change in church activities||19|
|Change in social activities||18|
|Minor mortgage or loan||17|
|Change in sleeping habits||16|
|Change in number of family reunions||15|
|Change in eating habits||15|
|Minor violation of law||11|