Finances and Older Women

The Iowa Commission on the Status of Women has collected a number of general resources for women on financial literacy, but older women have some particular challenges. Elder women are particularly vulnerable to living in poverty. A number of factors affect women's lifetime earnings, their particular questions about Social Security, and retirement savings. Some women may not have previously worked outside the home and find a financial need to do so later in life. In some cases, laws regarding finances may have changed, and it's important to keep abreast of financial news. For some women, money was never discussed when they grew up, and recognizing now when and how to ask for help is crucial.

Women's longer lifespan may mean for some that avoiding long term care and/or having financial strategies in place to fund long term care are central concerns. Other older women may be finding new financial roles for themselves if they unexpectedly lose a spouse to death, illness, or divorce. Information, planning, and taking charge are the best defenses for older women against poverty or financial victimization.

Unfortunately, in addition to physical or emotional abuse, some older women are victims of financial abuse. The Iowa Department on Aging has a number of resources on the legal rights of older Iowans, as well as available services for those in need, like substitute decision making. Financial Safety Planning for Older Women is also available.

Avoiding Scams

Financial crimes against seniors and vulnerable adults are a growing concern. AARP Iowa estimates that one in six people over 64 fall victim to financial abuse. Iowa Fraud Fighters say that con artists often target older Americans, taking them for almost $3 billion each year.

Iowa Fraud Fighters is an effort by the Iowa Insurance Division and Iowa Attorney General’s office to help Iowans improve their financial literacy and avoid fraud. Iowa Fraud Fighters offers these tips to avoid scams:

  • Get on the National Do Not Call Registry. Register your phone number at www.donotcall.gov or 888-382-1222.

  • Take the time you need to research, get advice and learn more before making a large purchase or investment.

  • Don’t be afraid to say "no."

  • Monitor your money by regularly reviewing your accounts and investments.

  • Report fraud to help protect others from the same scam.

For more tips and resources, go to www.iowafraudfighters.gov. To report financial fraud, contact the Iowa Insurance Division at 877-955-1212 or the Consumer Protection Division in the Iowa Attorney General's office at 888-777-4590.