Only 22% of Single Moms Prioritize Their Health

woman with doctor

In the PYMNTS Intelligence “2024 Women’s Wellness Index,” a collaboration with CareCredit, we drew on survey insights with more than 10,000 U.S. consumers to develop a clearer picture of the many factors shaping women’s finances and their overall health and well-being.

For example, we found that women are 11% more likely than men to research aspects of health and wellness on their own and are 19% more likely to understand how to identify the best medical and wellness providers.

This may explain why single women living alone have some of the best health outcomes, scoring 20% better than the average woman on our index.

chart, personal health and wellness

Why? Our data shows that healthcare needs of children or significant others can take precedence — with major impacts on women’s health outcomes.

As the accompanying graph illustrates, the highest portion (30%) of women we surveyed who prioritize their own personal wellness and health are single without children. In contrast, 28% of women who cohabitate with partners and have children prioritize the health and well-being of others in their households over their own (18%). Twenty-two percent of single moms also put their healthcare needs in second place.

Women who are single parents, meanwhile, are slightly more likely to make the health and wellness of other household members a higher priority (23.5%) than to prioritize their own health and wellness concerns (22.3%). And, as one might expect, more single mothers found financial goals to be most important (8.6%) than women who cohabitate but have no children (6.8%).

Elsewhere in the “The 2024 Women’s Wellness Index,” data show that priorities change according to age. Survey results reveal that higher percentages of women from older generations prioritize their personal health and wellness than younger respondents. For instance, 86% of baby boomers and seniors say their own health and wellness is a priority, while only 78% of Gen X respondents share this view. Millennials (72%) and Gen Z respondents follow.

This age-related prioritization may mirror a simple fact of life: health and wellness concerns tend to take center stage as we age. A converse representation of this principle can be seen in the fact that only 12% of baby boomer and senior women (who are closer to retirement) say career goals are a priority. Meanwhile, 58% of Gen Z respondents, 56% or millennials and 41% of Gen X — all of whom are farther from retirement — identify career goals as a priority.

Another key finding from the report is that women in general feel pressured to take care of others, which often impedes their own heath. The fact that older women appear to be more comfortable re-prioritizing their own needs indicates that that pressure may dissipate with time.